Minister Angelkova: The contact point in the ministry maintains a 24-hour connection with all interested parties under “Thomas Cook” case

24 September 2019

We have made a commitment to assist if a joint claim is required for the receivables of our hotel-keepers; together with the business we are discussing  insurance for the foreign tour operators as well

“We had an urgent meeting with hotel-keepers and tour operators regarding the declared bankruptcy of “Thomas Cook”. For the next steps it will be very important to follow what is happening with the associated organizations of “Thomas Cook”. These were the words of the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Anglekova at an emergency briefing for the media regarding the case of the bankruptcy of the British tour operator. Earlier she had a working meeting with representatives of the tourist business – hotel-keepers, tour operators, tourist associations etc. The Ambassador of Great Britain to Bulgaria, H. E. Emma Hopkins also took part in the meeting.

“The situation is extremely disturbing in international aspect and will affect not only the summer season which is almost at its end, but also season 2020 which is currently being negotiated. The British warranty fund shall pay for the tourists who are in Bulgaria after the declared bankrupcy of the British “Thomas Cook”,” said Minister Angelkova. She emphasized that the key issue at the moment was the return of the tourists of “Thomas Cook” who were in Bulgaria, keeping our image and strengthening the trust of the other tour operators who would send their tourist to our country the following year.

“A contact point has been established in the Ministry of Tourism on the case with the British tour operator. We maintain a 24-hour connection with all interested parties. We have information that trustees have already been announced. It is also very important for us to know what is happening with the other markets of “Thomas Cook” and we are in constant connection with them as well. We have made a commitment to grant assistance both to the tourists who are in the country as well as to the Bulgarian tourist sector,” said the minister. “We are into discussions with the business whether to have a special fund for the hotel-keepers. It is also possible to initiate a change in the Law on Tourism between the first and second reading to request an additional insurance “Tour operator responsibility” for the foreign tour operators acting in Bulgaria as well.

“The hotels working with “Thomas Cook” in out country are more than 50, and 25 of them have already contacted the ministry,” said Minister Angelkova. “These are private commercial relations and each hotel has a separate contract with the company. The problem is that out hotel-keepers risk no payment for a service which they have already given, and this exactly during the peak months of July and August. The losses for the hotel keepers are for millions of levs and will lead to serious difficulties in the sector.”

“We shall have individual meetings.  We have made a commitment to assist if a joint claim is required for their receivables as the procedure is very complex. We are following the situation closely and hope not to have the effect of the domino on the rest of the markets of “Thomas Cook”, said the minister.

H.E. Emma Hopkins informed the minister that all flights of “Thomas Cook” had been canceled. “The British government is doing its best to get all tourists back home. All will be returned as soon as possible. This is the biggest repatriation of people in peacetime and is a very complex operation,” explained she.

“Britain is trying to secure air planes from the whole world but asks the passengers to get ready for serious delays. All details will be published on the site of “Thomas Cook”. The British Civil Aviation Agency is getting in touch with the hotels to ensure them that the costs for the stay of the tourists after the bankruptcy will be covered by the British government,” the Ambassador declared flatly. She also announced that 95% of the clients of the bankrupt company were already at their homes but 135 000 were yet to return.  “There are 2500 clients in Bulgaria and they must get back within the next 2 weeks. Representatives of the British Embassy have already been sent to the airports in Burgas and Varna. The British Embassy will continue to support the operation but we must be ready for delays.”

“This is a sad day for “Thomas Cook” and its employees. Each year more than 350 000 British tourists visit Bulgaria. The people travelling with the company this year were about 13 000. The rest have come with other tour operators and some of them – individually. The British citizens love taking holidays in Bulgaria because of its warm climate, the views, the good food and the prices. The British tourists will continue to visit Bulgaria,’ summarized Ambassador Hopkins.

Hristo Galbachev, Executive Director of “Astral Holidays”- official representative of “Thomas Cook Group” for Bulgaria, said that out of the 163 000 tourists of the company there were about 6000 in Bulgaria at the moment. “Less than 10% of them are British. Till the end of this week there are confirmed flights for the British guests”. He called to responsible actions of the business in order not to damage the image of Bulgaria as a destination for organized tourism. “There are no Bulgarians abroad who are travelling back with “Tomas Cook”, summarized he.

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