Thomas Cook has requested extra payments from overseas suppliers in return for marketing support as it struggles with tough market conditions, increased fuel costs and the fallout from unrest in the Middle East.

A letter signed by Jerome Delente, director of trade agreements at Thomas Cook, asks French operators to pay 1.5% of their total turnover through the French Thomas Cook retail shops and warns that more bills will follow.

It said (translated from French): “Since January 15, our distribution business has been affected by an unprecedented series of events both in their magnitude and duration.

“Despite our efforts, the business’s volume is down sharply and the Thomas Cook network is unable to absorb all of its fixed costs over the period. That’s why we are now obliged to ask you to support the additional cost of marketing your products.”

Travel Weekly understands some overseas hotels have received similar requests. One hotelier in Greece said Cook had asked for between 1% and 3% of turnover across the group in return for marketing support over the next three months.

He said: “They are going round hotelier by hotelier, saying if you want to be pushed for the next three months, you need to pay this.”

Aito chairman Derek Moore said he feared Thomas Cook would make the same request to UK operators. “We will watch with interest to see if the squeeze will
cross the Channel.”

A Thomas Cook spokesman was unaware of any new approach with hotels but said marketing tactics were normal at this time of year.

He said: “It’s not unusual for us to work with our partners on joint marketing campaigns.”