In amongst the routine work that we receive each day, there are the growing number of holiday crime complaints. Some of you may have read our latest article on this issue and how concerned we are that holidaymakers are innocently being exposed to a state of lawlessness in several destinations.
I really do not care what so-called financial crisis exists, such a crisis does not release any society from their obligations to take care of the vulnerable; to do so raises the risk that such inaction will harm the reputation of a destination. No matter what any travel industry entity may think of this organisation, our message is consistent; if you want a sustainable tourist product, then you should make sure that it is a safe product! On that note, just consider the latest story we have received from a returned holidaymaker.
Mr X and his wife went on holiday to Turkey and paid a lot of money for what is classed as a high standard hotel. On returning back to their hotel room at 11pm at night, they discovered that their room had been entered and the contents of their room safe had been emptied! What was of concern was the fact that there were no signs of forcible entry - the room and the safe had been opened with a master key - the implications of this is that it was clearly an 'inside 'job'!
An 'investigation' by the hotel revealed that the burglary had been committed by a member of staff at the hotel; it was also discovered that the staff member had apparently broken into 2 other rooms in the previous 48 hours.
Mr X understood that the thief was arrested and taken into custody, so for all intents and purposes, the crime was resolved. When Mr X spoke to the tour company representative, they were initially helpful, however, when he asked that he speak with the police, the mood changed dramatically!
Mr X was told that if the police were called and that if they thought he was lying, then they would:
'Be sued & the matter would be dealt with in unpleasant ways'.
The representative then went onto to say to Mr X that:
'This is not England, things are not done the same way here'.
Mr X was then told that if he persisted with the request, it was very likely that he would be held by the police overnight, finger-printed and that forensic evidence would be obtained to 'make a case'!
Not a great advert for the Turkish Police (perhaps His Excellency The Turkish Ambassador should take note of yet another concern regarding the authorities in his country - will he or his staff respond to this and the other serious complaints we have brought to his attention? We stand ready to talk to him!
So, was it the case that the staff member was arrested and taken into custody? It would appear not - the 'rumour' is that he escaped from police custody; oh please, where do these tour operators get this nonsense from?
Mr X and his wife were so upset by the events that they were moved to another hotel during what was described as a really 'scary transfer'. He also came under a lot of pressure via e mail NOT to report the matter to the police!
Since his return to the UK, he followed his complaint and has now received an 'intimidating letter' from the tour operator's solicitor.
Forgive me for saying this but doesn't this all sound very suspicious and somewhat shabby? Once again a holidaymaker is subject to the criminal activity within their hotel/resort (with apparent prior criminal activity taking place), taking all necessary precautions to protect their property. This is followed by the shocking behaviour of a tour company representative refusing to provide the assistance they are required to do under Regulation 15 of the Package Travel Regulations.
It is clear that the time has come for us to shed a bright light on this issue; watch out for more holiday crime stories!