Maldivian Tourism Minister Ali Waheed says there were 804 holidaymakers from Thomas Cook in Maldives when it abruptly announced its bankruptcy.
UK-based Thomas Cook had been the world’s longest running travel agency. It announced its bankruptcy following failure to secure rescue funding and cancelled travel bookings for over 600,000 of its holidaymakers on Monday, September 23.
Speaking at a press conference this Wednesday, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed said the Tourism Ministry began work on identifying and assisting Thomas Cook’s holidaymakers in Maldives as soon as it announced its bankruptcy.
“We initiated long-term measures immediately after Thomas Cook announced its bankruptcy. Talks were initiated between Tourism Ministry, MMPRC, President’s Office, Foreign Ministry, Economic Ministry, Finance Ministry, Attorney General’s Office and MATI,” said Ali Waheed.
He said a center was set up at the Velana International Airport to assist affected holidaymakers.
“We have established a center at HIH. I visited the airport yesterday and met with the holidaymakers at there. Our whole industry is working to show our exemplary hospitality and service in sharp contrast to several other countries,” said Ali Waheed.
He said that Thomas Cook owed fees to multiple local companies and resorts when it collapsed.
“We are working on the financial angle as well. Thomas Cook has money owed to several companies. They have a lot of bookings. The government is with both the industry and holidaymakers in this situation,” said Ali Waheed.
He said the Tourism Ministry was working on assisting both the holidaymakers en route to Maldives and those already in Maldives at the time of Thomas Cook’s collapse.
“The whole industry is working on this. There’s the agreement with Thomas Cook. But the resorts are working on servicing the holidaymakers. Several resorts are providing accommodation free of charge. And some holidaymakers have gone to resorts on different packages,” said Ali Waheed, noting that Thomas Cook had been a top supplier of holidaymakers to a large number of local resorts.
He said the Tourism Ministry was also working on minimizing the impact of Thomas Cook’s collapse on the Maldivian tourism industry.
“This happened during a period of high growth in the Maldivian tourism industry. On the other hand, the high season is coming up soon. We will tackle this by providing exemplary hospitality to holidaymakers and distinguishing ourselves from other countries,” said Ali Waheed.
He said Tourism Ministry has also met with officials from Thomas Cook.
A help desk has been set up at VIA to assist Thomas Cook’s holidaymakers.
“Several holidaymakers remain at HIH. We will host them until such time as they are able to go to their destinations in Maldives,” said Ali Waheed, adding that Tourism Ministry officials were personally meeting with each and every one of Thomas Cook’s holidaymakers in Maldives.
“We are able to do this due to the immense support from the tourism industry – from MATI and from the resorts.”