British tour and airline operator Thomas Cook collapsed on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, leaving 600,000 travelers affected in countries all over the world with the largest numbers of tourists stranded in Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, and Greece.
Weddings have been ruined as a wedding party participant and guests are not able to travel to the wedding destination. Vacations have been ruined leaving travelers unable to leave or stranded without a way home.
Michalis Vlatakis, who is the president of the Association of Cretan Travel and Tourism Agencies told CNN that the collapse of Thomas Cook can be compared to a 7-magnitude earthquake in the tourism industry, but that the tsunami or after-effects could be worse.
Vlatakis says that the collapse could have a major impact on tourism business on the Greek island of Crete, as it will everywhere Thomas Cook operates and has contracts with hotels and complementing businesses and services.
So how do travelers who are stranded get home? According to a report by CNN the The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says travelers who are protected by Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL), will arrange for their flights home. ATOL, is a UK protection plan which safeguards most vacation packages which are sold by tourism businesses that are based in the UK.
The bad news is that hotel accommodations booked only through Thomas Cook which are not part of a flight-inclusive package will have to be paid for by the travelers themselves unless they are traveling on an ATOL-protected package with Thomas Cook.
For travelers who are not ATOL protected the CAA says they may not make claims for out-of-pocket expenses or additional hotel accommodations, but they might be able to through their travel insurer, bank to credit card issuer.
The other bad news is for the tens of thousands of Thomas Cook employees.
‘Despicable’ is the description made by the British Airline Pilots’ Association of the way Thomas Cook employees have been treated in the midst of its collapse. While employees worked hard with dignity and integrity to keep Thomas Cook going in recent weeks, there is no information as to whether any of the staff will receive a paycheck this month.
The UK labor union is calling the collapse of Thomas Cook ‘an act of vandalism.’
Diana Holland, who is the union’s Assistant General Secretary for Transport, says it is devastating to its membership and that the union will work to make sure they get paid, receive legal representation and all compensation they are entitled to.