BUSINESS

Counting the cost of the Thomas Cook affair

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism, Economy

The Greek government is set to announce measures to support the local tourism industry, which has been dealt a major blow by the collapse late on Sunday of British tour company Thomas Cook. Greek hoteliers estimate that their exposure to the UK tour operator comes to at least 200 million euros, although market estimates put this figure at up to 430 million, as the company’s downfall constitutes a systemic danger for local tourism.

The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) has called on the government to take “specific measures for the absorption of problems that emerge in tourism enterprises,” while the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels asked for “the support of hotels hurt directly by the collapse of Thomas Cook,” stressing that “the behavior toward and the treatment of these people will reflect on Greece as a hospitable and responsible country internationally.”

These issues were on Monday put to the government during various meetings with tourism representatives. The Tourism and Finance ministries are cooperating to find ways to support the Greek tourism enterprises affected. Among the measures that have been proposed are payment deadline extensions for the tax and social security obligations of the hoteliers affected and for the stay-over tax.

In Greece Thomas Cook was closely cooperating with a network of 47 hotels, four of which belonged to the British company. Indirectly, hundreds of other hotels in Greece were clients of Thomas Cook. As the tour operator brought about 2.8 million out of a total of 33 million visitors to Greece last year, and under the assumption this year it has sold 10 percent fewer packages, it follows that it brought 2.5 million tourists this year – i.e. some 7.5 percent of incoming tourism.

If these figures are taken into account with the tourism takings of 16 billion euros last year, it means the turnover Thomas Cook made in Greece amounted to some 1.2 billion euros, with 70 percent of that, economists say, concerning hotels.

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