Holidaymakers ‘put off’ booking hotels in UK as reports of bedbugs soar

File photo showing a close-up image of a bed bug
File photo showing a close-up image of a bed bug

Holidaymakers are being put off booking hotels in Britain as reports of bedbugs have soared by 278 per cent in the past two years, research has found.

The parasitic insects are multiplying rapidly, experts fear, with hotels seeing more than five times the number of cases in the first three months of 2024 compared with the same period last year.

There were 1,319 complaints of bedbugs in hotels in the UK on in 2023, compared with 826 in 2022 and 457 in 2021.

Spotta, an insect monitoring company, said it had seen a 278 per cent increase in levels of bedbugs in hotels across the country in the past two years.

Travel experts said outbreaks are deterring people from booking holidays in the UK, while hotels are reluctant to talk about what measures they are taking to prevent bedbugs.

Simon Calder, a travel expert, said: “The recent bedbug outbreaks are deterring some people from taking well-deserved holidays and short breaks. Worries about these pesky insects could have a long-term effect on behaviour.

“And if people decide not to travel because of their fears, it will be highly damaging for an industry which is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic.”

He added: “The hospitality industry, and travel as a whole, needs to tackle the problem swiftly.”

Almost a quarter of British consumers – 22 per cent – have been put off booking hotel accommodation this year because of recent outbreaks in the UK and abroad, according to a survey by Censuswide.

Mr Calder said: “I have talked to fellow travellers who have actually cancelled trips because they are worried about bites and also I’ve encountered hotels that are reluctant to talk publicly about their bedbug measures.

“Consumers need to be confident that the property is taking measures to deal with the situation and are prepared to pay more for hotels that demonstrate their concern about the problem.”

Detection rate ‘higher than Paris’

The French capital was hit by an invasion of bedbugs last year, with social media users posting footage of the insects crawling across seats on the Paris Metro, trains and buses.

They were also spotted in restaurants, cinemas and even in Charles de Gaulle Airport, with the French government vowing to tackle the “scourge” of insects that threaten to overshadow the 2024 Olympic Games in the city.

However, Robert Fryers, the chief executive and co-founder of Spotta, which provides artificial intelligence monitoring technology to hotels to detect bedbugs before they spread, said the company had recently seen higher instances of bedbugs in London.

‌“Over the last six months or so the detection rate in London has actually been 28 per cent higher than in Paris,” he told The Telegraph.

The start-up company provides monitoring devices to hotels designed for early detection of bedbugs.

The box, which is about the size of a pack of cards, sits between the mattress and bedframe and contains a pheromone chemical designed to attract the insects.

When a bug crawls inside, a small camera takes a picture of it and sends it to a central database, before a combination of artificial intelligence and the human eye determines whether or not it is a bedbug.

A mobile alert is then sent to the hotel managers to inform them of the infestation.

The company is now launching a Bed Bug Protection Promise, encouraging hotels that use the device to adopt a logo to help reassure consumers that proactive measures are in place to protect them from the insects.

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