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Thomas Cook collapse strands unknown numbers of tourists in Merida

The loss of Britain's historic travel agency is a loss to Yucatan, particularly on the Mexican Caribbean

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The loss of Thomas Cook is a loss to the Yucatan. But first, present-day tourists need to find a way home. Photo: Courtesy

Merida, Yucatan — Officials are counting the number of tourists visiting Yucatan who came here on a tour package from Thomas Cook.

The British tour wholesaler collapsed suddenly Sunday, stranding 150,000 vacationers worldwide. Eloisa Vadillo Atoche, vice president of tourism for the Merida Chamber of Commerce, said many hotels in the Centro Historico work with the historic company.

“At this time we are talking with these hotels to know both the number of tourists traveling and those who are arriving,” she said.

Losing Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest tour operator, is a blow to Yucatan. With Mexico cutting back in tourism promotion, having private companies sending European travelers this way was good for the Peninsula’s economy. The bankruptcy will put a dent in English, German, Dutch and Danish tourism, said Vadillo Atoche.

“Yes there are tourists stranded in Mérida, but at this time they have not been quantified in detail, because there are circuits that are in process, some arrive, others leave, and the announcement came very fast and at this time, the important thing will be to attend tourists and subsequently establish the feasibility of charging, ” he said.

With Cook planes grounded, British officials have been working to bring tourists home from as far away as Malaysia.

The other, more touristy side of the Peninsula will be hit harder by Cook’s collapse. Darío Flota Ocampo, director of the Tourism Promotion Council of Quintana Roo, said that “it is bad news for the Mexican Caribbean.”

“At this time, the Ministry of Tourism is helping dozens of travelers who are stranded in Cancun by the announcement of the closure of this company,” he said.

Tourists who just started their vacations may have to cover their expenses if Cook hadn’t yet reimbursed their hotels. The British government will likely create an agency that takes care of the debts contracted by the company and its operating subsidiaries.

The United Kingdom is the Mexican Caribbean’s No. 4 source of international tourism, and the first in Europe.

Thomas Cook, founded in 1841, had storefronts across Britain selling budget-friendly vacation packages for middle-class tourists.

Because Thomas Cook customers are covered under a British insurance program, they are assured of eventual refunds and trips home.

Source: Agencies

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