Thomas Cook bankruptcy leaves 15.000 tourists stranded in Cyprus

NicosiaThe bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, which accounts for 5% to 6% of total tourist arrivals to Cyprus, left 15.000 tourists stranded on the island.

The world’s oldest travel firm, Thomas Cook, collapsed today, stranding over half a million of holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history, expected to be completed by 6 October.

The liquidation marks the end of one of Britain’s oldest companies that started life in 1841 running local rail excursions before it survived two world wars to pioneer package holidays and mass tourism.

The firm employed 22.000 people and ran hotels, resorts and airlines for 19 million people a year in 16 countries.

Immediate repercussions from the collapse for Cyprus in particular includes an estimated €50m in financial losses as the company has not paid hoteliers for July and August as well as half of September.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of airline seats will be lost, which further complicates Cyprus’ connectivity problems.

It remains unclear how much will be paid to hoteliers but Deputy Tourism Minister, Savvas Perdios, told reporters after chairing a crisis meeting in Nicosia today that “there is a high possibility this money will be lost”.

But he said that the stay of Thomas Cook customers currently in hotels in Cyprus will be covered by insurance.

Hoteliers who have bookings for the rest of the year are left counting their losses as it is difficult to fill the gap created in such a short period.

Thomas Cook brought 250,000 to 300,000 tourists to Cyprus every year mainly from the United Kingdom, but also from Scandinavian countries.

Perdios said that they account for about 5% to 6% of arrivals, but represent a higher share of overnight stays as Thomas Cook clients tended to come for longer holidays.

Other tour operators are expected to cover much of the gap but travels experts said this could take time.

Britain is Cyprus’ biggest tourism market accounting for about one third of total arrivals and the closure of Thomas Cook only adds to deep uncertainty related to Brexit.