Tourists stranded in Coast as Thomas Cook collapses
Hotels at the Coast are staring at massive cancellations following the collapse of global travel giant, Thomas cook.
Close to 20 tourists, who are holidaying at the Travellers Beach Resort in Mombasa, who booked under the agency, are stranded.
“We still have 20 guests from Germany in our hotel who had booked through the agency and we are following up to see how their dues will be paid. We are largely affected because we depended mostly on this agency,” said Travelers Beach Resort marketing manager Wafula Waswa.
He said the hotel has also received about 120 cancellations from tourists who had booked through the agency between October and March 2020. The hotel fears that tourism numbers will decline.
Bahari Beach Hotel manager Godfrey Juma said there are fears of dip in tourism numbers ahead of the December holiday. He said no cancellations have been witnessed at the tourism facility.
British travel group, Thomas Cook, on Monday declared bankruptcy, disrupting flights and services for millions of tourists, including in African destinations such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
The British government said it had hired planes to fly home an estimated 150,000 holiday-makers to the UK, in an operation that started on Monday, but by yesterday Business Hub established that most of them were still being held by hotels as negotiations continued.
Thomas Cook failed to reach a last-ditch rescue deal, triggering the UK’s biggest repatriation since World War II to bring back stranded passengers.
According to Kenya Coast Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi, the UK commands about 20 per cent of the Coast market majoring on beach and safari sectors, therefore, the agency’s collapse was a big blow to the sector.
“Many hotels are going to be hurt because we do not know how the debts, some dating up to 90 days, will be paid,” said Hersi, and urged hotels at the coast that are accommodating guests under the travel agency to ensure proper communication with UK embassies so that the matter is solved diplomatically.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said Kenya was banking on four charter flights per week direct to Mombasa International Airport. The collapse of Thomas Cook, Ikwaye said, was a big blow to service providers.
Currently bookings stand at 70 per cent with local tourists, enabled by the Standard Gauge Railway, taking the majority of the slots.
Kenya Tourist Board Head of Corporate Communications Wausi Walya said the impact would not be astronomical because Kenya has diversified its tourism source markets.
Passengers who had bought a package holiday will be covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).
Repatriation of those already on holiday under the agency will only run up to and including October 6. After that, travellers would have to make their own plans, although those covered by Atol will be refunded.
Hoteliers will be paid via the Atol scheme, so they should not ask for any extra payment from holiday makers.