Sustainability might have been the overarching theme at this year’s WTM London but there was (unsurprisingly) another hot topic on the lips of many tourism boards: Thomas Cook.
Perhaps most impressive of all, though, was the response of the Spanish government, which has enacted a royal decree to protect local businesses – and crucially their staff – from the fallout of Cook’s liquidation (p8).
Provisions include €15 million for the Canary Islands, €8 million for the Balearic Islands and €200 million for credit loans. The purpose of this, Spain’s secretary of state for tourism told TTG, is to prevent hotels from closing or laying of staff due to cash loss.
The move is in stark contrast to the (lack of) action by the UK government.
Spain was one of the destinations worst hit by Cook’s collapse (the country welcomed 1.3 million Cook customers from the UK alone in 2018), but the UK was home not just to the headquarters of Cook, but also to 9,000 of its staff.
Last week the Unite union published research showing the “human misery” caused by Cook’s collapse (ttgmedia.com). Because while the Hays deal might have rescued all 555 Cook stores and led to the recruitment of at least 2,329 high street staff so far (p7), there are still almost 70% of ex-Thomas Cook Airlines employees who remain without jobs.
The UK government should be praised for its speedy review into Cook’s collapse, but the “urgent steps” business committee chair Rachel Reeves insisted “need to be taken” seem an increasingly long way off, especially with a general election now in the mix.
The next government should remember actions speak far louder than words.