Mideast tourism hit by collapse of British holiday firm


British tourists, flying with Thomas Cook, queue at the Enfidha International airport on September 23, 2019, on the outskirts of Sousse, south of Tunisia’s capital Tunis. (AFP / FETHI BELAID)

Arab News
September 24, 2019

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

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.



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