September 25, 2019 / 5:11 PM / 10 months ago

Thomas Cook collapse to cost Morocco hotels $20 million: tourism body

RABAT (Reuters) - The collapse of British travel operator Thomas Cook has left Moroccan hotels facing unpaid bills of about 200 million dirhams ($20 million), the head of Morocco’s tourism federation said on Wednesday.

A Thomas Cook Scandinavia Airbus A330 plane takes off from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, Spain, September 25, 2019.REUTERS/Borja Suarez

Thomas Cook operated two flights a week from Manchester to Marrakech and dealt with some 50 hotels in Marrakech and Agadir.

Morocco’s tourism industry had 2018 revenue of 73.2 billion dirhams, a key source of hard currency for the country.

“The loss of some 100,000 tourists ferried by Thomas Cook will take a toll on Morocco’s tourism sector,” Abdellatif Kabbaj told Reuters.

The government should help professionals mitigate the losses and avoid bankruptcy and layoffs by hotels, he said.

“There is no insurance for this sort of risk and there should be one to cover Moroccan professionals from such a loss.”

Morocco’s tourism ministry said it has created a crisis unit to handle the fallout of the Thomas Cook collapse.

A source at the ministry said some 1,300 Thomas Cook client were still in Morocco on Wednesday after about 180 had left.

The first flight for Thomas Cook clients from Morocco departed as planned on Wednesday, the British embassy in Rabat said in a statement.

Morocco’s tourism promotion office signed an agreement with Thomas Cook in 2017 hoping to attract 400,000 tourists by 2020.

Arrivals in Morocco, including Moroccans living abroad, hit 12.3 million tourists in 2018.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; editing by David Evans

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