Travel industry accused of failing consumers over health and safety

Travel industry accused of failing consumers over health and safety

Thomas Cook and the wider UK travel industry stands accused of failing to provide consumers with adequate information about ?the health and safety standards they are entitled to expect when travelling abroad.

An independent inquiry conducted by the former Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin? King, will say that tour operators and Abta need to fundamentally rethink the level of disclosure they provide to customers, Sky News reported.

King was asked earlier this year by Thomas Cook chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, ?to examine the company’s approach to issues including health and safety and crisis management following widespread condemnation of its response to the deaths of two children while on holiday in Corfu in 2006.

Bobby and Christi Shepherd died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler, with an inquest jury ruling in May that they were unlawfully killed.

The jury said that Thomas Cook had breached its duty of care towards them after the company had been accused of obstructing their family’s efforts to uncover the facts surrounding their deaths.

Repeated complaints about Thomas Cook’s attitude finally led its chief executive to publicly apologise?, but only after it emerged that the company had received a larger compensation payout than the family.

The company is working with Sharon Wood, the mother of the Shepherd children, on a new carbon monoxide awareness initiative, which is expected to be unveiled within weeks.

King is understood to make about 50 recommendations in his report, including a demand for companies to more clearly identify the potential risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in brochures and online.

He is said to have concluded that the changing nature of the holiday industry, with many consumers booking flights and hotel rooms separately through internet-based brokers, has led to intense confusion a?bout customers’ rights and the nature of the product they are buying, as well as companies’ health and safety obligations.

Package holidays, traditionally sold by Abta members have dwindled as a proportion of the overall holiday market, meaning that many consumers do not enjoy the ?level of protection they assume, King will say.

The former Sainsbury’s chief is also understood to argue in his report that Thomas Cook should devolve more authority to frontline staff in resorts to help holidaymakers who encounter serious problems, and that its customer service requires significant improvements.

Originally set for publication in September, the company is understood to have decided to delay the publication of the report until after a coroner’s report into the children’s deaths.

David Hinchliff, who investigated the tragedy, said there was a risk that further fatalities could occur unless action is taken.

Some of King’s recommendations overlap with those of Hinchliff, who ?called for safety checks to be conducted by qualified health and safety specialists rather than “often inexperienced and overworked” tour representatives.

Sky News reported sources as saying that Thomas Cook would commit to implementing King’s recommendations in full in its response to his report.


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