Sat | Aug 15, 2020

Bartlett: Ja well-positioned to recover from Thomas Cook collapse

Published:Wednesday | September 25, 2019 | 12:10 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that Jamaica is in a strong position to recover quickly from the US$10-million fallout as a result of the collapse of Thomas Cook, one of the world’s oldest and largest tour companies.

On Monday, the British tour operator ceased trading, causing the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of bookings, after the company failed to secure funding for its struggling operations.

However, Bartlett remained confident that the resilience of Jamaica’s tourism sector will offset any fallout.

“I believe that the overall fallout will be managed and will be cauterised, and by the time I am finished with the programme in the United Kingdom next week, we will be ahead of the curve in terms of sorting out all the fallout as it relates to Thomas Cook and looking at the growth path based on our projections,” he said yesterday.

“This first response is to deal with the actual fallout we will have, with about 18,000 passengers between now and October,” reasoned Bartlett.

He explained that Jamaica was to have six ‘rotations’ starting on Monday, which is 300 visitors every week, and that the ‘grounding’ of Thomas Cook operations has caused the country to miss the first one, with all indication that a second rotation will also be missed.

Jamaica will be looking at how to rebook potential visitors and how other airlines can be brought into the picture to pick up the slack in October, said Bartlett.

“That means that we will have to make some arrangements as to how we can make sure those 18,000 passengers are not lost to Jamaica in full. My own take on it is that we probably will lose some. And that could be somewhere in the region of 50 per cent, but October into March of 2020, we are expecting to have some 20 rotations overall.

“We have already taken steps particularly to deal with the 10 flights out of the Nordics, and that should be covered hopefully by TUI, and also those that will be coming out of Germany, and, of course, some, too, will be coming out of Canada,” said Bartlett.

He added that his ministry has already taken steps to try to soften the fallout and that he has had dialogue with Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke in an attempt to get additional support to make sure that the industry can respond to the needs of the market.

“I am not the one who is going to tell you it’s a piece of cake to do, but the good news is that Jamaica is well-positioned to counter any fallout from this, maybe more so than any other destination in the Caribbean,” an assured Bartlett said.

On Monday, the first batch of Thomas Cook visitors left the island after the bankruptcy filing left more than half a million international travellers stranded worldwide.

Thomas Cook was responsible for bringing some 14,000 visitors to the island annually.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com