Thomas Cook relaunched as online travel operator. Thomas Cook emerges as an online-only travel business, a year after the business collapsed leaving many stranded.
The relaunch occurs as the travel industry faces the worst tourism crisis since records began.
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According to World Tourism Organisation figures, international tourist trips dropped by 65% during the first half of the year. Thomas Cook’s UK chief executive, Alan French, says the company was taking the “long view”.
The new “Covid-ready” website will initially sell holidays to beach resorts and cities in countries on the UK government’s travel corridor list, including Turkey, Italy and some parts of Greece.
Further destinations will be added when government restrictions are lifted, alongside more hotels and other types of accommodation.
“We are launching now clearly aware of the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic,” French says.
“We know Brits are keen to travel but feel nervous about safety and any changes to government rules on quarantine.
“We are only selling destinations on the travel corridor list and all the hotels are flexible. We won’t charge customers a fee to change their holidays if government rules change.”
The website features tens of thousands of hotels, as well as flights, transfers, and other add-ons, for customers to tailor trips.
Thomas Cook sells single-destination trips by air only.
A spokesman says multi-stop trips and other transport options such as train and ferry are “under consideration”.
A spokesman for the new smaller company said: “We won’t have those dedicated buses and reps with clipboards round the pool. But we think people want to design their own holidays now.”
The new company plans to sell holidays to up to 50,000 passengers a year.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Cautions consumers to be careful when booking holidays.
“While some previous Thomas Cook customers may be pleased to see it relaunching as an online travel agent, the events of the past few months should act as a reminder that just because a brand is a household name it does not mean you can necessarily rely on it to treat you fairly,” he said.
“While package holidays booked through Thomas Cook would be Atol protected, many of the big online travel agents have proven time and time again through the pandemic they aren’t able to offer the same level of protection or customer service as better, traditional tour operators, making it difficult to secure refunds that customers are legally owed for cancelled holidays.”
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“As one of the world’s leading tourism and leisure groups, the group values Thomas Cook’s 180 years’ heritage and global brand influence,” he says.
“Supporting the growth of the brand in China and its relaunch in the UK is a big step in our plan to turn Thomas Cook into a global success story.”