Thomas Cook bankruptcy: Bulgarian Tourism Minister calls emergency meeting of tour operators

The bankruptcy of the Thomas Cook holiday firm will cause quite serious difficulties with regard to plans for Bulgaria’s 2020 season, the country’s Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova told a special news conference on September 23.

Angelkova said that she had called a meeting for September 24 with all tour operators “so that we can get clearer information from the business about the consequences of the bankruptcy,” Angelkova said.

According to the British embassy in Sofia, there were about 2500 tourists in Bulgaria who had arrived on Thomas Cook flights.

Angelkova said that two flights on Thomas Cook airline had been scheduled from Bourgas Airport at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast for September 24, one with about 180 passengers and the other with 170 passengers.

The website of Bourgas Airport showed two Thomas Cook flights scheduled for September 24, one for East Midlands at 11.20am and the other for London Gatwick at 12.35pm. “Two flights, from Varna and Bourgas, are planned for tomorrow,” Angelkova said.

She said that the UK government, together with the British Civil Aviation Authority, had taken all the necessary steps so that tourists who have booked their holiday through Thomas Cook are returned to the UK. This will be entirely at the expense of the British Civil Aviation Authority through their guarantee fund, Angelkova said.

Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry was constantly monitoring the situation so that the negative impact in Bulgaria could be minimised, she said.

Thomas Cook provided about 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the flights used by British tourists to come to Bulgaria in the summer via Bourgas and Varna airports, according to Angelkova.

Thomas Cook operates around 6000 hotels worldwide, and in Bulgaria, under this brand, there are dozens of hotels on the Black Sea coast. What is worse, however, is that it was one of the largest foreign tour operators, bringing foreign tourists to Bulgaria, not only from the UK, but also from Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries.

“In recent years, the summer tourists who came to Bulgaria with vacations purchased from Thomas Cook were between 350 000 and 450 000,” Angelkova said.

“The bankruptcy will surely lead to a decrease in the number of foreign tourists in Bulgaria in the summer of 2020 and we will still see if and how we will compensate for that,” she said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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