Spanish hoteliers are threatening to take legal action against Thomas Cook following the operator’s controversial decision to reduce payments by 5% for August and September.
With payments due next week, Ignacio Vasallo, UK director of the Spanish Tourist Office, said hoteliers in the destination were waiting to see if the operator would stand firm on its decision, which it blamed on the £70 million cost of the Icelandic ash cloud crisis.
He said if the payments were less than agreed, he expected hoteliers to take the matter to court with the support of the Spanish tourism ministry.
Vasallo said: “I expect Thomas Cook to back down; that’s what it has to do. Hoteliers are ready to go to court as it is a breach of contract.”
The Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT) held a meeting with the operator last Thursday but failed to come to an agreement. CEHAT said: “The move sets a disturbing precedent that could be used by any intermediary and ignores the significant efforts and flexibility [by the hotels during the ash crisis].”
Vasallo claimed Spanish hoteliers had already dropped prices by an average of 20% this summer, adding: “In some cases, prices are lower than Turkey and competing destinations.”
The reduced payments are not being made to just Spanish hoteliers – Greek and Maltese hoteliers have been told they will receive 5% less than expected for August and September.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “We are talking with hoteliers and there has been positive feedback from the majority.”