Mideast tourism hit by collapse of British holiday firm, UAE unaffected

Worldwide about 600,000 tourists have been stranded by the collapse.

 (photo credit: JON NAZCA/ REUTERS)
(photo credit: JON NAZCA/ REUTERS)
CAIRO - The collapse of the British travel company Thomas Cook rippled across the MENA region on Monday, with stranded holidaymakers, demands from hotels for payment, and fears for some countries’ tourism industries.
Thomas Cook’s Egyptian agent Blue Sky said 25,000 reservations in Egypt booked up to April 2020 had been canceled. Blue Sky currently has 1,600 Thomas Cook tourists in Hugharda on the Red Sea, its chairman Hossam El-Shaer said.
Worldwide about 600,000 tourists have been stranded by the collapse. The British government launched emergency plans to fly 150,000 of them home.
Tunisia has set up a crisis center to deal with the fallout, with hotels claiming to be owed $65 million by the company in unpaid bills from July and August. Tunisian officials said the debts would be settled by the UK.
“We currently have about 4,500 British tourists in the hotels who will finish their stay as scheduled, and their repatriation will be paid for by London,” Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi said.
Tourism chiefs in Turkey fear they could lose up to 700,000 visitors a year from the collapse, based on the number who had previously come to Turkey with Thomas Cook.
Hoteliers’ federation chairman Osman Ayik said there were currently about 45,000 tourists in Turkey from the UK and other European countries who had traveled with Thomas Cook.
“There are a large number of small businesses whose fates depend on Thomas Cook, especially in Mugla, Dalaman and Fethiye,” he said, and the company owed up to $35,000 to each of several small hotels.
Thomas Cook operations in the UAE however, have not been affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook UK operations.
Al Rostamani Travels used to represent Thomas Cook UK previously but later it tied up with Thomas Cook India, which is owned by Fairfax Financial Holdings Canada and is not a part of Thomas Cook UK.
"We used to be Thomas Cook Al Rostamani. However, we now have tied up with Thomas Cook India which is not under Thomas Cook UK. We have not been affected by the UK crisis because since 2012, the UAE operations are no longer under the UK company. Hence, it business is usual here," a spokesperson for Al Rostamani told Khaleej Times.
Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director of Thomas Cook India, told Khaleej Times in a telephonic interview that the entire shareholding that the UK-based Thomas Cook Plc had in Thomas Cook India was sold in 2012.
"We have not been part of Thomas Cook Plc since seven years. We have not done any business with Thomas Cook Plc in the last 2 years. We used to do just one part of the business where Thomas Cook Plc used to send tourists to India and we mutually agreed to discontinue," Menon said during the interview.
He ruled out any impact of tourists flow from the UK to India as Thomas Cook Plc had some chartered flights coming to Goa which was of insignificant numbers. "We don't even handle this chartered flights," he added.
"With the recent developments relating to the iconic British Travel Company, Thomas Cook PLC, being reported in the media, it is imperative to highlight that Thomas Cook India Group is a completely different entity since August 2012 when 77 per cent of the company was acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings," the Indian company said in a statement on its website.
©2019 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
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©2019 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Visit the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) at www.khaleejtimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.