BUSINESS

Tui jumps in to fill Thomas Cook's gap

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism

As the latest estimates regarding just how hard Greek hotels have been hit by the collapse of UK travel giant Thomas Cook are pointing to unpaid invoices of some 230 million euros, and the government is assessing its options in terms of response measures, the now-dominant European tour operator, Tui AG, is sending one of its big bosses to Greece.

Sebastian Ebel, the chief executive officer of Tui’s hotels and resorts, cruises and destination experiences, arrives in Athens on Friday for talks with Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis, other government officials and tourism entities.

His message will be that Tui will try to support its partners as much as possible and fill in for its rival that brought some 2.8 million travelers a year to Greece.

The speedy reaction by the German group shows it is intent on increasing its market share, although it is certain it cannot completely replace its British competitor. This will be one of the biggest problems for local hotels next season in terms of occupancy.

Meanwhile the latest calculations regarding Thomas Cook’s forfeited obligations to Greek hoteliers put the figure at a minimum of 230 million euros. This figure does not include their lost revenues from contracts that will not be executed over the rest of the year and in 2020 or the secondary consequences on suppliers and creditors.

Moody’s noted in a report on Thursday that the forced resolution of Thomas Cook is a credit negative for banks in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria, as its collapse will reduce the liquidity of companies in key sectors related to tourism, thereby possibly leading to greater problems for lenders.

Moody’s estimates that the exposure of Greek banks to local accommodation and food service companies accounted for 10.8 percent of corporate loans in June 2019.

A meeting between officials from the ministries of Tourism and Finance was inconclusive on Thursday and will continue on Friday, with government sources linking any decisions to the return of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis from New York early next week.

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