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Thomas Cook: the founder’s good intentions became a burden of responsibility for followers

On the eve of World Tourism Day, one of its pioneers, the British tour operator Thomas Cook, left the market …

Among the reasons for his bankruptcy were not only debts and fierce competition, but also politics and even climate change.
The founder of the company, Cook, believed that if the railway offered cheaper fares, then this would make it possible for more people from the lower class to travel, and thus people would drink less, use less drugs, and they would be more interested in knowledge and education. tried to make travel easier, cheaper and safer
Thomas Cook has a long and vibrant history. For 178 years, the iconic travel brand, whose customers have been Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill, has been the founder of many travel initiatives.

For example, in 1851, a tour operator released The Excursionist, which became the prototype of the travel catalog, where package trips were first presented. In this brochure, along with a description of the route, railway tariffs were also included; in 1855, the company was one of the first in the world to organize trips abroad. In 1865, the tour operator opened its first travel agency in London, which sold guides, train tickets and tours, including to Paris, Italy and Switzerland.

In 1873, Thomas Cook tourists were the first in the world to travel around the world. Around the same time, the tour operator was one of the first to introduce traveller’s checks. In 1919, Thomas Cook was the first to launch the sale of tours already on the basis of air transportation.

By setting up a travel company, former Baptist preacher Thomas Cook hoped that his brainchild would make society better.

“For Cook, travel was associated with social growth. In those days, only rich people could afford to travel. Cook believed that if the railroad offered cheaper fares, then this would make it possible for more people from the lower class to travel, and thus people would drink less, use less drugs, and more would pursue knowledge and education. He tried to make the trip easier, cheaper, and safer, ”said Thomas Cook archivist Thomas Smith.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Thomas Cook dominated the tourism market, but in 1928 the business went to the Belgian international company Wagons-Lits et Grands Express, which operated Orient Express. During the Second World War, the assets of tour operators were requisitioned by the British government, and later sold to the 4m main UK railway companies. When they were nationalized after the war in 1948, Thomas Cook became state property. In 1965, the profit of the tour operator exceeded 1 million pounds. In 1972, Thomas Cook again became a private company. In 1992, Thomas Cook was sold to a pool of investors, but 9 years later, the German tourist group C&N Touristic AG became the sole owner of Thomas Cook, changing its name to Thomas Cook AG.

After 6 years, in 2007, the Thomas Cook Group was formed as a result of the merger of Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group plc, which had debts of £ 1.1 billion. But in recent years, due to increased competition in the market, the development of the independent travel market and the online sales segment, as well as the growth of MyTravel Group plc debt, the tour operator’s business was not so successful. Over the past 3 years, he has closed several hundred branded agencies, and his retail network has shrunk to 550 offices.
The total cost of insurance guarantees for vacationers, which must be paid to Thomas Cook customers under the ATOL Tour Insurance Scheme, is estimated at £ 600 million.
Bankruptcy turned out to have great social and economic consequences for the British market: 150 thousand British vacationers will have to return from abroad, 9 thousand people will remain without work. The tourist evacuation campaign, code-named Operation Matterhorn, is already called Britain’s largest peacetime repatriation. All British carriers, including British Airways and easyJet, will be involved in the export of tourists. Tourists will have to be taken out from almost all over the world: these are cities and resorts in mainland Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the USA and the Caribbean.

The evacuation will take 2 weeks: it should be completed before October 6. Already today, September 23, 14 thousand people will be removed. For this, 40 planes are involved.

As of September 2019, the debts of the tour operator were estimated at 1.7 billion pounds. The company agreed with the Chinese Fosun to attract 900 million pounds, however, state creditor banks last week demanded another 200 million pounds to ensure financial stability of the debt.

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