300 Tourists Sue Tour Operator Over Stomach Illness

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Nearly 300 British tourists are suing a tour operator that booked them at a Bulgarian hotel where they say they all got sick to their stomachs.

First Choice, a leading UK tour operator, regularly sends guests to the Royal Park Hotel in the Bulgarian resort of Elenite, but the tourists claim between June and October 2008 they became ill at the property, the Daily Mail newspaper reports.

Clive Garner, head of a legal team at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which filed the High Court action on behalf of 276 travelers, says many suffered "severe illness," some from food poisoning.

He says the travelers described a nightmare experience where some couldn't even get treatment at a local clinic because so many were sick. About 40 of his clients had to seek additional treatment when they returned home, Garner says.

"Tour operators have a responsibility to ensure that the hotels they send their customers to are at a reasonable standard, and that they comply with health and safety regulations, which are in place to protect their guests," Garner tells the Mail. "The failures that occurred at this hotel were very serious indeed and should not be tolerated."

First Choice, Garner says, has denied liability and refused to reach a "fair settlement."

The tour operator tells the BBC it has been negotiating for an "amicable agreement."

The law firm has already reached a substantial settlement for 95 additional travelers who fell ill at the resort in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

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