Thomas Cook says it will send some three million customers to Greece this year - up more than a third on two years ago.
Boss Peter Fankhauser on Wednesday (June 20) reaffirmed the tour operator’s commitment to the eastern Med holiday hotspot.
Fankhauser was speaking in Crete alongside Greek tourism minister Elena Kountoura at the launch of Cook’s latest hotel brand, Cook’s Club.
The Cook chief executive said the group had opened up four new destinations and added more than 34 new routes in the last two years, making it the biggest holiday company operating in the country.
Cook’s Club launches in Hersonissos, taking the operator’s total own-brand hotels in Greece to 47 and full portfolio to 188. Thomas Cook hopes to operate between 10 and 15 Cook’s Club hotels by summer 2019.
The Cook’s Club launch comes after Cook premiered its “boutique lifestyle” brand Casa Cook in Rhodes in summer 2016 before adding Kos in summer 2017, with Chania due to follow later this year.
“Greece has grown fast in the last two years to become Thomas Cook’s second-biggest destination,” said Fankhauser.
“Since 2016, we have opened up new regions to our customers including northern Greece; added new airline routes into the country and its many beautiful islands; and innovated with the launch of our two new own-brand concepts, Casa Cook and Cook’s Club.
“Our relationships with our own-brand hotel partners locally here in Greece are some of our most important and we hope to accelerate the growth in our own-brand hotel portfolio in Greece with the launch this spring of our hotel investment fund.
“We are keen to talk to potential partners who are looking for hotel management agreements and franchise arrangements as well as owners of hotels in prime sun and beach locations that we can acquire and refurbish before re-launching as one of our portfolio of eight hotel brands.
”With more than 1,000 employees and many valuable partners in Greece, we remain committed to grow sustainably to the benefit both of Thomas Cook and the local communities in which we live and work.”
Across the group, Cook says it will invest around €150 million in the Greek tourism industry during 2018, an increase of 22% on 2016.
It employs around 1,050 people locally across its three own-operated hotels and its in-destination customer support and commercial teams.
Kountoura added: “Greece is a globally attractive destination 365 days a year, emerging as an outstanding choice for unique, truly authentic travel experiences in the Mediterranean and Europe.
“Thomas Cook is a key partner in the continued development of our world-leading tourism industry. We support and welcome new investment projects in the dynamically growing Greek tourism sector that enhance the experience and the overall quality of our tourist product.
“Our strategic partnership is important in further promoting new Greek destinations and expanding our year-round tourism offering, focusing on the benefits yielded for the local communities through sustainable tourism growth.”
Cook added take up of its Travelife sustainability scheme is higher in Greece than any other of its destinations, with the operator aiming to achieve 100% certification across its own-bran hotels.