There is a saying, when cyclone strikes, all the big trees get uprooted and that is exactly what happening globally to many bog companies after the meltdown, there are many big companies have gone bankrupt in the past and now it is the time of Thomas Cook one of the biggest Multinational company engaged into the travel business. What happened that cannot be changed but the effects of it will go a long way and Goa is one of the major tourist destinations might have an adverse effect on the tourism industry this year.
Goa Tourism now seems to be staring down a deep dark hole what with the collapse of Thomas Cook UK, the 178-year-old British Tour operator that has ceased trading and all of its hundreds of thousands of bookings were canceled after it failed to secure rescue funding. This spells major doom for the tourism industry in Goa, as the state is all set to begin its tourist season for the year commencing in November which is little more than a month away.
Thomas Cook used to send around 45000 to 60000 foreign tourists every year and the loss of these numbers will create a big void in the industry. The tourists who have already booked their flights with Thomas Cook will now focus on getting their money back before making fresh travel bookings to Goa.
SITA chief executive Ernest Dias stated that there was no direct link between Thomas Cook India and Thomas Cook UK. He pointed out that it was Thomas Cook UK that had gone bankrupt whereas Thomas Cook India was taken over by a Canadian company called Fairfax.
Dias said, “Until last year, Thomas Cook UK used to send 5 to 6 scheduled flights every week from the UK to Goa in season time. The fact that it has collapsed is not a good sign for the tourism industry at all.” He said that the situation would be clearer in two weeks time and alternative arrangements were being made.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa President Savio Messias said that Thomas Cook was plying to Goa for the last 30 years. He said, “It was a market well organized and settled. Now Thomas Cook had started coming seven days a week plying 300 passengers. This calculates to a void of 45,000 less foreign tourists”. Messias also pointed out that with the reduction in e-visa fees and cuts in goods and services tax rates, more tourists would be attracted to visit the state.
Several hotels too according to Messias were likely to face the heat as they were entirely dependent on Thomas Cook to fill up their accommodations. Stating the good rapport built up between local hotels and foreign clients, he pointed out that it was a very good business which will be missed by the local hotels. He also stressed on the fact that if alternate arrangements were to be made support from the Central and State Government is a must.
Aloo Gomes Pereira, Chief Operating Officer (Charters), Trail Blazer Tours India, said that Thomas Cook UK’s closure was a big hit for tourism in Goa. “Thomas Cook operated flights from London Gatwick and Manchester to Goa between November and April and last year flew in over 35,000 British Tourists.” Pereira further said that the government should now permit foreign airlines to operate higher-capacity aircrafts to Goa.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation managing director Nikhil Desai said Thomas Cook failing is a bad development. “We were looking at a good season and all of a sudden this happens. It is very concerning. This goes to show how fragile the tourism sector has become. We are looking for alternative markets it is likely to affect. Thomas Cook was always full as it was cheap,” he said. With Thomas Cook UK shutting down operations the local hoteliers are now worried as British Tourists are a good market for them. Packaged tours are often booked months in advance.
Zafar Karmali, director of sales and marketing at Hyatt’s Alila Diwa resort in Goa stated that hotels will have to revise their prices which will affect revenue earnings. Thomas Cook India says that it has been unaffected and so has The Hotel Leela in Goa.
General Manager of The Leela Hotel, Goa, Shridhar Naik has said that the business brought in to The Leela Goa By Thomas Cook UK is expected to be routed through other charter companies operating in that region. “We do not forecast any loss of business owing to this development and we have taken steps to cushion the blow given that this was anticipated,” he said.
Nandivardhan Jain, chief executive officer of advisory firm Noesis Capital, said the impact on hotels would be confined largely to markets like Goa and Kerala. Local hotels will now have to up their ante and look to tapping the domestic business as well as the meetings and conferences niche. An increase in tourists from Russia and Israel (Which will have direct flights to Goa from October) could step in the void created by British Tourists.
Thomas Cook UK which shut down operations on Monday, leaving hundreds of tourists stranded in Europe, was among the largest overseas tour operators selling sun and surf holidays in Goa during winter.
Goa has been a traditional winter holiday spot for Europeans, especially from Russian and UK, who come to the sunshine state to beat the freezing cold winters in their countries.
Earlier this year, Finnair discontinued its operations in Goa who for the last 25 years had been flying Scandinavian tourists to the State. In 2014-2015, Germany’s Condor, one of the first airlines to start charter operations to Goa, discontinued operations citing high costs.
Thomas Cook UK’s fall comes as a third setback to Goa as in the category of foreign tourists visiting Goa every year, the number of British tourists were second only to Russian tourists.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority has launched a dedicated Thomas Cook Page to help customers who are affected with the closure. Getting one’s money back depends on how one has paid for the flight, for which the options are listed below.
If one has booked with a credit card: if the booking cost between £100 and £30,000 and any of it was paid for on credit card, one may be able to claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Get in touch with the credit card provider and claim for costs not received.
If one has booked with a debit card: Get in touch with one’s debit card provider as soon as possible as in some cases there is protection on purchases and a claim can be made.
If one has paid with PayPal: As PayPal offers buyer protection, it’s advisable to quickly get in touch as soon as possible and try to get the money back.
Check the policy to see if it covers ‘airline failure’ which could mean the money could be recovered partly. This usually includes the cost of the original flight, or the cost of a new flight to get one home if you’ve already traveled.
The Civil Aviation Authority is providing new flights to return all Brits abroad to the UK, which will be operating within the next two weeks until the 6th October 2019. After this date, one will need to make their own travel arrangements – although it’s worth noting that for a small number of locations passengers will need to book their own return flights.
Some of the travel firm’s packages included flights with different airlines which are not part of the Thomas Cook group – in this case, the flights will still be valid (although hotel and transfers etc will still be affected).
Normally when a travel firm goes bankrupt and has an airline, other airlines will offer affected passengers discounted rates on the same routes. One can make use of these ‘rescue fares’ by providing evidence of the original airline booking.
Source : Various Sources
Image : Seattle Times