Trinidad & Tobago Calls for Quick Response to the Thomas Cook Collapse
President of the Tobago Hospitality and Tour Operators Association (THTOA) Tedd Greig is calling on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and central government by extension to move swiftly to come up with a strategy to deal with the collapse of the Thomas Cook airline and tour operator.
He said it was imperative to "not lose the opportunity to the competitors who have already begun their groundwork in capitalizing on what they will deem as 'one man’s loss is another man’s gain.'"
Last Monday, the 178-year-old Thomas Cook ceased operations, leaving thousands of its passengers stranded all over the world.
Speaking at a news conference on Saturday at the office of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) in Carnbee, Greig, who is also the executive director of Tedd Sunshine Tours, the inbound ground agent of Thomas Cook for over 20 years, described the collapse of the British tour operator as “a sad time for the industry.”
He said, “Our immediate concern is that of going forward to try to reach out to our visitors and try to convince them to rebook their vacation to Tobago, before choosing another destination.
“We are aware that there are many options around the world, unfortunately, we in Tobago do not have many airline options available to us; the competition is fierce within the Caribbean.”
Thomas Cook Group was a British global travel group. It was formed on June 19, 2007, by the merger of Thomas Cook AG (itself the successor to Thomas Cook & Son) and My Travel Group. The group operated in two separate segments: a tour operator and an airline. Thomas Cook went into compulsory liquidation.
Greig said Thomas Cook includes two airlines, Thomas Cook and Condor, and quite a number of other international tour operators and other consumer travelers utilize the services of these airlines.
“Over the years, the Tobago hoteliers and other suppliers have been working closely with these operators in offering various packages to boost arrivals into their properties and by extension into Tobago. I must say, we saw an increase of more than 100 per cent in bookings this season when compared to same season last year."
While Greig is yet to reach out to the Division of Tourism and by extension, the Tobago House of Assembly, he does intend to,and plans to make some recommendations.
President of the THTA Chris James endorsed Greig’s views and said other destinations have already been "on the ground" in the UK and are offering £100 for pre-booked tour operators under Thomas Cook flight to change the booking to a different tour operator.
President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association Chris James wants the Government help alleviate the fall-out from the Thomas Cook collapse.
“We would wish that the government here would offer a similar incentive but we have to be quick, because bookings are being lost daily already and it’s a first-come, first-served service on most of the flights that we have,” James said.
“We would also like the Tourism Agency (Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd) to do the "last call" program they did last year, which was to offer £50 to bookings for the destination, because it’s going to be very difficult to recover the bookings that we’ve lost this late in the season.”
The THTA, James says, has great concerns over the impact of the Thomas Cook liquidation.
“It is going to affect/impact Tobago greatly, as Thomas Cook had 20 rotations to Tobago. It’s a shared flight from Barbados, but it also was our only non-stop flight from the UK directly to Tobago, so it's been a successful flight.
“These 20 rotations amounted to 6,262 seats, of which we were getting greater than 50 per cent...so we were getting about three-and-a-half thousand seats on that plane. The estimated loss to the economy, which includes hotels, restaurants, car rentals, retail – all of the services that are involved in supplying guests –is about US$3.8 million. That’s the loss to the economy and that’s a conservative estimate with our own calculations.
James said he has been in contact with the TTAL’s CEO to explain the situation. “I want them to get the money from government to do what we’re asking. That’s what I’m asking. We need to get these £100 offers in as quickly as possible.”
Source: Newsday (Trinidad & Tobago)