Following the fall of the age-old travel giant, Moroccan hotels are facing $20-million worth of unpaid bills and Greece is gearing up for tourism losses of around $550 million – not to mention the losses of the 600,000 people left stranded around the world when Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy.
On Wednesday 26 September, Abdellatif Kabbaj, President of Morocco’s National Confederation of Tourism, announced that the loss of around 100,000 tourists ferried by Thomas Cook would take a huge toll on the country’s tourism sector. “There is no insurance for this sort of risk and there should be one to cover Moroccan professionals from such a loss,” he added.
As such, the country’s tourism ministry has set up a crisis unit to handle the repercussions of the collapse of Thomas Cook. As of Wednesday, a ministry source said that there were still around 1,300 Thomas Cook clients in the country after the first repatriation flight had departed from Moroccan soil, carrying 180 passengers.
And in Greece, more than 30,000 tourists have now been evacuated, with extra repatriation flights booked to get the remaining tourists home, according to Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis.
Many hotels in Greece rely on the package bookings that Thomas Cook provided, but with the travel company’s demise, hotels are concerned that devastating losses of their own are soon to follow. Andreas Andreadis, President of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), sympathised, arguing that hotels should be exempt from paying the overnight taxes for the Thomas Cook tourists, and that the VAT for tourist packages should be lowered in light of recent events.
“The government must realise the magnitude of the problem and take immediate decisions for support, to avoid the expected domino effect,” he said. “Our tourism has never faced such a mega-bankruptcy until today. It is a difficult case, with huge costs and many consequences that require calmness and good co-operation from all sides.”
Elsewhere, and in hopefully an isolated case, tourists at Tunisian vacation resort Les Orangers were reportedly ‘held hostage’ by a hotel concerned that Thomas Cook would not be able to pay the money owed to it. "We've been up to the gates, they had four security guards on the gates, holding the gates closed, and were not allowing anybody to leave," Ryan Farmer told UK news broadcaster the BBC.
With monumental job losses and unpaid debts, it’s likely that there is still more fallout yet to be announced following the liquidation of Thomas Cook. Whether tourism industries will quickly recover from such a sudden economical haemorrhage remains to be seen, but it’s certainly clear that more stringent regulations need to be in place to prevent the dissolution of huge conglomerates causing similar chaos in the future.