The British tour operator, Thomas Cook, went back on its plans to take off 5% from the amount of its contracts signed with hoteliers in Spain and agreed to refund any money that it has already withheld since announcing this controversial decision in September. As a result hoteliers affected by the decision have agreed to withdraw complaints to the European Union Office for Fair Competition.
The decision to abandon its plans to take off 5% was made during a meeting with the Spanish Tourist Association which had cancelled all agreements with Thomas Cook while it remained inflexible over its decision. Antonio Mayor, the Chairman of Hosbec, represented hoteliers from the Costa Blanca. The meeting, which took place in London at the World Travel Market, was also attended by the regional government ministers for tourism from the Valencian region, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
With regards to refunding money already withheld from hoteliers negotiations are still taking place and involve each individual hotel which has been affected.
Two months after its unilateral decision and in the face of going before the EU courts following bitter discussions with Spanish hoteliers the Chairman of Thomas Cook, Manny Fontela-Novoa, apologized for the actions of his company and said that it would never go down the same road without previous negotiations involving hoteliers. Furthermore, the second largest tour operator in the United Kingdom announced that it planned to increase the number of places available in its contracts with Spanish hoteliers by between 5 and 10%.
Mayor stressed that negotiations during the meeting were ‘intense and difficult’ but that he was very happy with the ‘unity of the sector’. The Vice Chairman of Hosbec, Javier García commented that the decision by Thomas Cook to abandon its plans was surprising and intelligent but also added that the fact that the Spanish hotel sector had acted in unison had made it stronger.
Mayor said that the British economy was improving and the forecasts for growth over the next few months were good. He said that the measures which had been taken by the new government were working because the economy was moving at a pace that has not been seen for several years. He said that this was very important because of the importance of British tourism for Spanish hoteliers. He said that more than two million British tourists visited the Costa Blanca every year and in global terms generated more than one thousand million euros a year.