Travel

Thomas Cook relaunches as online travel company offering Britons holidays on UK safe list

Thomas Cook collapsed in September last year after 178 years but was bought by Chinese firm Fosun Tourism Group for £11million. The new Thomas Cook website began selling holidays online and over the phone on Wednesday but does not have any stores. The new “COVID-ready” travel company is initially selling holidays to destinations on the government’s safe travel corridor list.

The new site, which is licensed by the CAA and Atol-protected, is offering customers thousands of hotels and flight routes so they can design their own holidays according to their budget, needs and specifications.

Thomas Cook has managed to keep the brand’s original logo and is employing around 50 people.

Holidays are available to popular beach destinations and cities in countries including Italy, Greece and Turkey which are all included on the current travel corridor list.

Customers are also able to choose from room-only to all-inclusive options, across three, four and five-star hotels.

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Some examples of what is available include a three-night break in Rome in November at the four-star Grand Hotel Fleming for £252 for two adults flying from Gatwick.

Or, if you’re after a break for a family of four then Thomas Cook is offering a week-long, all-inclusive stay at the five-star Crystal Green Bay Resort & Spa outside Bodrum on October 11 for £1,250 flying from Liverpool.

Add-ons for travellers include transfers, car hire, airport parking, currency and travel insurance.

Over the coming months, Thomas Cook will continue to invest in its digital platform to adapt to changing holiday needs and lifestyles.

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This will include adding new flight partners and other travel options, as well as additional hotels and other types of accommodation.

Further destinations will also be added when UK government restrictions are lifted.

Alan French, who was group strategy and technology director at Thomas Cook when it collapsed, has been hired as UK chief executive of the new travel agency and described the relaunch as “an honour”.

He said: “What happened last year was a tragedy at a personal level for many thousands of my former colleagues, our business partners and of course our loyal customers.

“The resilience and affection still felt for the Thomas Cook brand reflects the huge commitment and professionalism of those former colleagues. We are very much in their debt and hope to have their backing as we look to take the brand into a new era.”

The failure of Thomas Cook led to 9,000 jobs being lost and the repatriation of around 150,000 holidaymakers who were overseas.

Mr French pledged that the new travel agency’s customers can be “reassured their money is protected” due to its “robust financial structure”.

Thomas Cook only offers trips to destinations from which UK holidaymakers can return without entering 14 days in quarantine.

The travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with the self-isolation requirement causing demand for foreign breaks to plummet.

Mr French said: “We have reinvented one of the most recognisable names in British travel. Our new business will combine fantastic UK-based customer service with an updated operating model protected by Atol and with the backing of a multibillion-dollar organisation.

“We are launching now clearly aware of the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic. We and our Fosun backers are taking the long view and we want to offer choice, customisation and 24/7 on-holiday customer care to families who wish to travel now and in the future.

“We know Brits are keen to travel but feel nervous about safety and any changes to Government rules on quarantine. We are only selling destinations on the travel corridor list and all the hotels are flexible. We also won’t charge customers a fee to change their holidays if Government rules change.”

Jim Qian, chairman and chief executive of Fosun Tourism Group, said: “Thomas Cook has a proud heritage and after acquiring the brand last year we wanted to quickly return it to its home in the UK.

“Supporting the growth of the brand in China and its relaunch in the UK is a big step in our plan to turn Thomas Cook into a global success story and a key milestone in the development of the Fosun Tourism Group’s strategy.”



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