A UK holiday park has been found to blacklist certain surnames in an attempt to keep “undesirable guests” out.

Pontins, the holiday firm, has been exposed by a whistleblower according to the i paper.

They alleged the company was using an internal system of discrimination against Gypsy and Traveller families.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigated following the tip.

EHRC found a blacklist of mainly Irish surnames was being used as part of a policy of refusing bookings at its holiday parks.

Pontins has since agreed to review its working practises and culture in response.

The i reported that the blacklist was uploaded to the Pontins intranet. It was displayed under the heading “Undesirable Guests” instructing workers in their call centre. It said that people using these names were “unwelcome”.

Staff were reportedly told “we do not want these guests on our parks”.

The document begins: “Please be aware that several guests are unwelcome at Pontins, however some of these will still try and book – especially during the school holidays. We have been informed by our Operations Director that we do not want these guests on our parks. Please watch out for the following names for ANY future bookings.”

It is then followed by a list of 40 banned names. Surnames of “undesirable guests” included Boyle, Delaney, Gallagher, McGinley, McMahon and O’Donnell.

Reviewing Policies

Following the investigation, The Britannia Hotel Group has now signed a legally binding agreement with the EHRC.

They have agreed to “comprehensively address” the issues raised by the whistleblower.

The agreement requires the company to investigate the blacklist. In addition, they now must review their booking policies as well as running annual equality and diversity training for staff.

The EHRC said ” by declining to provide its services to guests of a certain race or ethnic group, Pontins was directly discriminating on the basis of race and had “breached the Equality Act.

Call Monitoring

The EHRC also found that Pontins was regularly monitoring calls to its contact centre.

They then refused or cancelled bookings made by some people with Irish accents or surnames.

Pontins also used a commercial vehicles policy to exclude Gypsies and Travellers from its holiday parks.

Alastair Pringle, the EHRC’s executive director, said: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guest list’ and the signs displayed in hotel windows 50 years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and black people.

“Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.

“It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action.”

Are you surprised Pontins did this?

Image via Alamy