It’s a sorry state of affairs indeed when the termination of a centuries-old travel company culminates in mass unemployment, hundreds of thousands of stranded travellers, unpaid hotel bills and heavy financial loss for tourism industries worldwide.
But, with the dust now beginning to settle, travel experts at the ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo have been able to distinguish at least one positive that has come from the situation: that holidaymakers are now much more likely to consider consumer protection.
“It does highlight to the consumer that if you actually book a protected holiday then your money’s safe,” said Brian Young, Managing Director of group adventure travel company G Adventures.
Young extrapolated that consumers are now doubly likely to ensure that their holiday is protected, either by choosing a package holiday option that includes Atol protection, purchasing flights through their credit card, or else, ITIJ notes, by confirming they have sufficient cover included in their travel insurance. “If they didn’t know before, they certainly do now,” said Young.
Derek Moore, Chairman of Aito, the specialist travel association, argued that Thomas Cook’s collapse highlights that scale is certainly not a guarantee of success. “Think of Thomas Cook as a large fuel tanker,” he said. “It can’t adjust quickly. Smaller operators can adapt more quickly to adverse economic conditions.” Moore added that the aviation market would soon fill the gap left by Thomas Cook.
ITIJ certainly hopes that such a vast number of holidaymakers never again find themselves in the dire position that they did following the liquidation of Thomas Cook. Ensuring that travellers have the correct protection in place is a great place to start, but ultimately the job losses, global tourism impact and loss of confidence in the travel industry that Thomas Cook’s sudden end has brought about will require quite some work to remedy.