Insolvency of Germany’s FTI comes at critical time for Greek tourism

Insolvency of Germany’s FTI comes at critical time for Greek tourism

The announcement that Germany’s FTI Group, Europe’s third-largest tour operator, has filed for insolvency and will cancel or scale back trips that have not yet started comes at a critical time for Greek tourism as the main summer season begins.

FTI brings hundreds of thousands of Germans and other visitors to Greece, mainly to Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu.

It is estimated that there are currently 7,500 visitors in Greece who booked their holiday through FTI, 4,000 of whom are on Crete.

Kathimerini understands that in recent months, the group has paid for the bulk of holiday packages that took place last season and had also paid May advances, after a consortium of investors came on board to help the group, which had been struggling financially since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The signs were already clear in the past two months for those working with FTI … which gave hoteliers an opportunity to deal with other travel agencies or through direct sales and online platforms to cover the gaps that will be left by FTI,” Grigoris Tassios, a former president of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers, told Kathimerini.

Yet, approximately 300 hotels in Greece are owed around €1.8 million by FTI for 2023 bookings.

Announcing its decision to file for bankruptcy, the operator said it is working to ensure that trips that have already started can be completed as planned, but “trips that have not yet begun will probably no longer be possible or only partially possible from Tuesday.”

A support website and hotline were set up for customers affected.

The German Foreign Ministry said that the tourism industry and travel insurance fund would take care of repatriating and supporting the tourists affected but that it would provide consular support if necessary to ensure a safe return.

The company filed for bankruptcy in the Munich regional court on Monday, as bookings continued to fall even after a recent one-euro buyout proposal.

In addition to sinking orders, multiple suppliers insisted on advance payments, which FTI is no longer able to provide.

The German Economy Ministry called the insolvency “tragic” adding that it could not provide any additional assistance.

FTI employs 11,000 people worldwide and offers tours to more than 40 destinations around the world, including through its 10,000 partner agencies in Germany. [Kathimerini/Reuters/AP/AMNA]

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