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    Bankrupt tour operator Thomas Cook relaunches online

    Credit: Belga

    Defunct British tour operator Thomas Cook was relaunched Wednesday by Chinese conglomerate Fosun, which had bought its brand for £11 million after its bankruptcy filing a year ago.

    While the tour operator had its own network of agencies, planes and hotels, the new Thomas Cook will sell tours only online and by phone.

    The new company employs 50 people, compared with 9,000 in the UK alone for the old group.

    “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,” said Alan French, former strategic and technology director of the defunct group and current managing director for the UK.

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

    Thomas Cook currently only offers trips to destinations that do not require travellers from the UK to quarantine upon return, such as Italy, Turkey and parts of Greece, and the tour operator will not charge fees for changing bookings.

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    The company was abruptly closed down on 23 September 2019, having run out of money after a final failed recapitalisation attempt. This led to an unprecedented repatriation of 150,000 holidaymakers worldwide.

    Many of the clients had difficulty in having their bookings refunded. French promised that customers of the new Thomas Cook can be “reassured their money is protected” thanks to its “robust financial structure.”

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

    The tour operator is resurrecting in the midst of a crisis in tourism, one of the sectors hardest hit by the new coronavirus pandemic due to travel restrictions and fears of contamination in transport.

    Jim Qian, CEO of the Fosun tourism subsidiary, adds that his group, which also owns Club Med, wants to “turn Thomas Cook into a global success story.”

    The Brussels Times