As Thomas Cook, the legendary British travel agency, desperately tries to secure further private investment or government assistance to save its firm, some of its customers are already feeling the repercussions of its financial struggles.
A hotel in Tunisia, hosting guests who used Thomas Cook to book their trip, is apparently charging extra fees before those customers can leave. Guests at the Les Orangers reportedly faced security guards blocking the hotel’s gates as they tried to leave.
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Guests said the hotel asked them to pay additional fees due to “the Thomas Cook situation.”
The “situation” is this: the venerable 178-year old travel firm is facing dire consequences. Thomas Cook is trying to secure another $250 million in addition to the $1.125 billion in funds it secured last month in order to continue operating.
The hope is that if it can’t raise the funds privately, the government would step in with a bailout.
If not, and if the firm is forced to close, it will be a lot more than just a handful of tourists in Tunisia needing help.
If the firm collapses, England is facing its biggest repatriation of British citizens since World War II – some 150,000 Thomas Cook clients currently traveling abroad.
It’s been done before.
Two years ago, the collapse of Monarch Airlines forced the government to take emergency measures in hiring planes to bring 110,000 stranded passengers home, costing taxpayers some $75 million.
“It is incumbent upon the government to act if required and save this iconic cornerstone of the British high street and the thousands of jobs that go with it,” said Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association union. “The company must be rescued no matter what.”