Holiday prices could rise if Virgin Holidays’ appeal against an injury payout is not appealed, lawyers have warned.
The company’s GBP24,000 payout to customer Moria Japp has raised concern that operators will be made more liable for what happens in resorts and could therefore impact the price customers pay to cover potential costs.
Virgin Holidays started its appeal against Japp earlier this week, who was awarded GBP24,000 in damages for walking into a glass door and suffering deep cuts that were said to be life threatening.
Japp was staying at the Crystal Cove Hotel, Barbados in 2008 when the incident occurred and won in courts against Virgin Holidays in October 2012. Virgin Holidays was found 80% liable for the deep cuts caused when she walked into a glass door that went from her balcony to her room.
According to the Evening Standard, the tour operator’s lawyers has warned of difficulties for the tourism industry if British health and safety standards are expected to be complied in overseas destinations.
Japp’s lawyers have argued that as a British citizen and company, Virgin Holidays should send customers to hotels that apply to UK rules.
However hotel auditor Check Safety First said tour operators could save money by having hotels checked independently and need to “wake up” so to not come victim to claim culture.
Steve Tate, chairman of Check Safety First said: “The judge is right to say that the tour operator should ensure that the hotel is safe. However, this doesn’t mean that the European tour operator, or hotel, should be liable for every little accident that occurs, just as they are not liable in the UK for every single incident. However, the tour operator has a duty of care to ensure that the hotels and holidays it sells have been independently checked.”
He continued: “If the travel trade wakes up to the fact that prevention is much better, and cheaper, than sorting out claims after the event, millions of pounds in compensation could be saved. In this case, the judge is not applying UK law but referring to the 1992 EU package travel directive which makes European tour operators liable for the safety of their guests anywhere in the world.
“No one wants to see holidays sanitised and bland, but holidaymakers don’t want to stay in a death trap either. Safe hotels are not expensive hotels to maintain; they are simply well run establishments.”
The court’s judgement is to be given at a later date