UK-based Turkish tour operators seek Ankara’s support
UK -based Turkish tour operators have raised concerns over British global travel group Thomas Cook’s collapse and are seeking urgent help from the Turkish government to avoid losing their market share.
The demise of the U.K.’s oldest travel agency has sent shockwaves across the industry worldwide, especially in countries like Turkey, which has benefitted from its travel packages and in turn tourism revenues. According to a report by Thomas Cook, Turkey has been one of the top destinations for Britons this summer, with holidaymakers turning their backs on destinations in the European Union due to uncertainties over Brexit.
The firm carried over one million tourists to Turkey in 2018, of which 620,000 were from Germany and 435,000 from the UK, according to a report by the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers’ Association. With the numbers revealing the scale of the impact, the company’s demise may have a negative impact on Turkey’s tourism revenues. “If the Turkish government does not take urgent steps, UK-based Turkish travel agents may lose their market share following the tour operator’s collapse,” Engin Sertoglu, director of UK-based Caira Holidays, told Anadolu Agency. “Turkish air companies should play a part in getting UK-based Turkish travel agents out of this crisis by increasing flight capacity. If there are no flights, there won’t be any tourists,” Sertoglu said, noting the system in the UK will not allow any travel company to fill the gap after the collapse.
He said Turkish Airlines should take the initiative by offering additional capacity charter planes, pointing out that Thomas Cook was supposed to bring nearly 40,000 tourists to Turkey in October. “By giving urgent incentives, the [Turkish] government should support Turkish travel firms operating in the UK so they can continue to contribute to Turkey’s tourism,” he added.
Ibrahim Batkitar, director of Comfort Travel, said the British travel giant’s collapse may create an opportunity for small-scale travel agencies, noting that Thomas Cook was the second travel firm to go bankrupt in three years. “People don’t trust online bookings anymore,” he said, adding they will opt to do business with travel companies offering accessible staff and reliable customer services, which is more trustworthy than the internet.
‘Thomas Cook owes
350 million euros to Turkey’
Firuz Baglikaya, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), said other tour operators could fill the gap in the sector within 3-4 years by offering the same services to consumers.
Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Poland following the UK creates an unusual situation for the sector, according to a statement by Turkey’s Tourism Advisory Council, which consists of leading institutions representing the tourism sector. It said nearly two million tourists come to Turkey from these countries per year.
The statement added that upon its collapse, Thomas Cook owed Turkey’s tourism sector more than 350 million euros (around $381 million). However, it is impossible for this amount to be repaid in the shortand medium-term, and that will put small businesses in a difficult situation, it added.