EHRC finds Pontins acted ‘unlawfully’ against Irish Travellers

Today, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has released its report following an investigation into Pontins Holiday Parks’s blacklist.

The EHRC investigation looked at whether Pontins discriminated against Irish Traveller guests or prospective guests, and if booking policies, information and record keeping systems discriminate based on race.

The report summarising the EHRC’s findings, including 11 instances of ‘unlawful acts’, calls for the holiday operator to produce an action plan on how they will meet the EHRC’s recommendations, including:

  • Delivering training embedded in fairness, equality and diversity and updating internal and external policies and procedures in line with the Equality Act 2010;
  • Removing electoral roll terms and conditions across the holiday operator sector, and replace with proportionate identity checks that allow for various identification methods;
  • Reconsidering the practice of relying on the electoral roll as a primary form of identity verification as it is indirectly discriminates members of Gypsy and Traveller communities.

If Pontins Holiday Park fail to adhere to the recommendations by early April this year, the operator could face criminal sanctions.

Pontins initially entered a 12-month legally binding agreement with the EHRC in 2021, after a whistleblower revealed that the holiday parks company had created a list specifically designed to cancel or refuse bookings from Irish Traveller families, based on common surnames.

The EHRC ended the agreement in February 2022, after it was not satisfied that Pontins were complying sufficiently.

FFT submitted further evidence to EHRC where holiday parks had stopped or cancelled bookings made by Gypsies or Travellers.

Speaking about the report’s findings, Abbie Kirkby, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“We know from our casework and anecdotal evidence that the Pontins case is just the tip of the iceberg.

Repeatedly we hear of Gypsy and Traveller people being excluded from hospitality settings and from accessing a range of other goods and services, because of prejudicial views.

Companies must be properly held to account for their discriminatory practices.”

Drawing on the importance of this outcome, Chris McDonaghan Irish Traveller and Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“It is deeply saddening that Irish Traveller people have become so used to hate and prejudice that the Pontins ‘blacklist’ did not come as a surprise.

Whilst we are certain that Pontins are not the only ones operating such discriminatory policies, we welcome the EHRC’s investigation and commend the whistleblower’s principled stance.

Everyone deserves to live free from hate and prejudice.”




About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.

Media Contact

Communications Team

Email: [email protected]

Additional Resources

‘Report: Investigation into Pontins holiday parks’. Equality and Human Rights Commission. February 2024. Read.

‘Pontins under investigation over treatment of Travellers’. The Guardian. May 2022. Read.

‘Secret Pontins blacklist prevented people with Irish surnames from booking’. The Guardian. March 2021. Read.

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