Hundreds of hotels in Spain face imminent closure following the collapse of British travel giant Thomas Cook, the head of the Spanish hotel federation warned on Monday.
“There are 500 hotels that will close immediately due to the collapse of Thomas Cook and the situation could get worse if the government does not take immediate action,” said Juan Molas, head of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Accommodation. tourist. daily Cinco Dias.
And the sum of unpaid bills left behind by the tour operator’s demise would be well over the initial estimate of 200 million euros ($220 million), said Molas, whose organization represents 15,000 businesses.
“It will be much more. The amount for just eight channels is close to 100 million.”
Of the hotels facing immediate closure, 100 relied exclusively on Thomas Cook, he said, while the rest relied on the company for 30-70% of their customers.
A hotel in Fuerteventura, the second largest in the Canary Islands, had recently undergone a 20 million euro upgrade and was now faced with 700 rooms ‘which will be empty from October 7’ and 200 staff that it would be forced to lay off. .
The most affected are those of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, where 40% of hotels are affected.
The industry has drawn up a contingency plan which will be presented to Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto at the next meeting of the Spanish tourist board on October 7, which will also address the urgent issue of air links with the Canary Islands.
Industry experts fear the impact there could be even more devastating than elsewhere, as the resort is hugely popular as a winter destination among tourists from northern Europe.
“The high season is starting and Thomas Cook had 30% of air capacity,” said Molas, indicating that the disappearance of the package holidaymaker could affect some 1.3 million plane seats, with Tenerife and Lanzarote particularly affected.
He urged the government to contact RyanAir, one of the few carriers flying there, to urge the low-cost airline ‘to reconsider’ plans to close four bases in Spain, including three in the Canary Islands, saying that it was “critical” that the airline maintain its flights.
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