The government is urging holidaymakers to take out travel insurance to cover medical costs in case of injury or illness.
A growing number of British travellers are ending up in hospital abroad – some facing huge bills for treatment because they are not insured, according to the Foreign Office.
In the last year British consulates have been involved in 3,752 cases of UK tourists needing hospital stays, compared to 2,890 in the year before. Most cases occurred in Spain (1,024) followed by 452 in Greece and 150 in the United States, where medical costs can be heaviest.
Weighed in terms of the numbers visiting a country, holidaymakers heading for Thailand are most likely to end up in hospital (246 cases), according to the British Behaviour Abroad 2011 report.
Yet research shows 15% of Britons do not take out travel insurance before going abroad, while medical bills overseas can be very high, the Foreign Office warned.
The report said travel insurance was crucial.
‘Medical treatment abroad can be very expensive and to avoid being faced with large bills if taken ill or after having an accident, the Foreign Office is urging people to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy before they go away,’ it said.
The rise comes against a back drop of fewer people actually travelling abroad because of the economic climate.
The report also noted that arrests of Britons abroad had fallen by 10%, with drug arrests down nearly 20% according to the figures for the period 1 April 2010 – 31 March 2011.
Nevertheless, that still meant consular staff dealt with 5,700 arrests in the last year, with most being in Spain and the U.S. Most arrests for drug offences came in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Foreign Office said the report provided ‘unique insight’ into Britons getting into trouble.
[Reference: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=639222082 ]