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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Timeshare industry 'cleaned-up'
tenerife
Tenerife is a popular choice among timeshare owners
Hundreds of holidaymakers were cheated out of vast sums in the timeshare fraud operated by John Palmer.

But the body which represents timeshare customers believes the industry has now been cleaned up.

In the past, irresponsible operators using high-pressure sales techniques have damaged the industry's reputation.

But legislation by the European Union (EU) and individual member states has put consumer safeguards in place.


Increased consumer protection is strengthening consumer confidence in timeshare

Peter van der Mark
During Palmer's trial at the Old Bailey, the court heard how hundreds of holidaymakers were cheated out of vast sums in the fraud.

"Customers were faced with complex, misleading paperwork and a confusing network of companies," David Farrer QC, prosecuting, told the jury.

But Peter van der Mark, of the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) said: "Timeshare has changed profoundly over the past five years.

"Not only are major hotels - and travel companies now developing timeshare, increased consumer protection is strengthening consumer confidence in timeshare."

A statement from OTE said: "European holiday makers now have the right of a minimum 10 day cooling-off period, a document stating their rights and obligations when buying a timeshare, and protection of any funds paid to acquire the timeshare."

1.2 million owners

The Timeshare Regulations, of 1997, ensure that a prospective purchaser within an EU member state has a minimum 10-day period to cancel the sales agreement without penalty.

In the UK, the Timeshare Act of 1992, amended by the Timeshare Regulations of 1997, provides for a 14-day cooling-off period, with a total ban on up-front deposits.

The timeshare concept began in Europe in the 1970s as a way of owning the right to use a specific unit of accommodation at a resort for an agreed number of weeks at a specified time of each year, for a minimum of three years.

Now there are 1.2 million timeshare owners in Europe and four million worldwide.

The industry generates more than 4bn a year and is forecast to expand at twice the rate of overall world travel and tourism during the next decade.

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18 May 01 | UK
The fraud king of Tenerife
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