The government is very clear: Travelling abroad for the purpose of holidays is illegal. Doing so (or even trying to leave the country) without an officially sanctioned 'reasonable excuse' will earn you a £5,000 fine.
A Travel Declaration form must be filled in before making a trip abroad, and while the government does provide a list of what it considers reasonable excuses, they caveat this by stating that the list is non-exhaustive.
This 'reasonable excuse' list is being scoured by rebellious natured Brits for grounds acceptable to the government, which might allow them to travel (and if they happen to be travelling to a place with sand, sun and sangria, then so be it....)
Large sections of society will condemn this attitude as irresponsible, but this hasn't stopped people from suddenly needing to travel for work, education, medical reasons, weddings, funerals or (crucially for timeshare owners) 'reasons related to property abroad.'
Do timeshares count as 'property abroad'?
The big question for many timeshare owners, is: "Can I state that I am visiting my foreign property, when filling out my Travel Declaration form?" Unfortunately the answer is a resounding "no".
Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims explains why not. "Despite many timeshare owners being sold their membership as an investment or form of property, with associated implications of increasing value, this is not the case."
"Timeshare membership has nothing to do with property ownership. It is generally the 'right to rotational occupancy'. The member owns nothing physical at all.
"Unlike property ownership in general, timeshares drastically decline in value. Membership usually can't even be given away because of the burden of associated annual maintenance fees. Most owners need professional help to escape the unwanted commitment of those fees."
"Don't book a holiday relying on visiting your timeshare resort as a valid reason," warns Cooper. "At best you'll be refused permission to travel and will have wasted money on costs such as the flight. At worst there will also be a £5000 fine to ponder on your way home in the taxi."
"People who are trying to escape their timeshare membership, should be aware that it can be done.
"Contact one of the consumer associations for advice, or you can get in touch with a reputable timeshare claims firm for a free, confidential chat."
ECC provides timeshare claims services, expert advice and help.