A large number of Greek hoteliers are in a standoff with German travel giant TUI AG regarding the time it is taking for the tour operator to pay its dues to the local tourism industry. The amount in question appears to be around 50 million euros.
Given the huge pressure on the hotel sector after the 80% drop in arrivals and takings this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that any delay in the payment of the biggest European tour operator’s dues poses a threat to the sustainability of a significant number of hotel enterprises, hoteliers say.
The industry also says that, at the end of the summer, TUI unilaterally changed its contracts with hotels concerning the timing of its payments to them – which are usually made two months after guests have departed from the hotels.
TUI has proposed the repayment of only 25% of its outstanding debts by the end of 2020 and the rest before the start of the 2021 season. However, if one takes into account the fact that deposits concerning next year are normally being discussed and start being paid at this time of the year, it becomes clear that the entire hospitality chain is facing serious problems.
For their part, after the flurry of Greek and foreign reports on the issue that emerged with Spanish hoteliers, sources from TUI told Kathimerini that it had come to an arrangement with almost 90% of hoteliers regarding its outstanding debts, and that the issue now concerns only the remaining 10%. Quick calculations by market insiders put the sum of debts for which an arrangement hasn’t been reached at around €50 million.
However, TUI is not the sole tour operator with pending debts to Greek hoteliers, as this year’s crisis follows the losses of €200 million that stemmed from the Thomas Cook bankruptcy about a year ago.
The Thomas Cook example is making local hoteliers even more nervous when they see the obvious difficulty TUI is facing in meeting its obligations to them. They fear that the German tour operator may never pay them what they are owed, given that it is seeking support of €1.8 billion from the German government and is in the process of selling off hotels, aircraft and cruise liners.