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Holidaymakers 'Held Hostage' In Hotel As Thomas Cook Faces Collapse

HuffPost UK logo HuffPost UK 22/09/2019 Sarah Turnnidge
a person standing in front of a building: Pedestrians walk past a branch of a Thomas Cook travel agent's shop in London on July 12, 2019. © TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images Pedestrians walk past a branch of a Thomas Cook travel agent's shop in London on July 12, 2019.

British tourists staying at a Tunisian resort have said they are being “held hostage” amid uncertainty around Thomas Cook’s future. 

Holidaymakers staying at the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, have claimed that the hotel is refusing to let guests leave whilst demanding extra money.

Despite already paying for their holidays through travel company Thomas Cook – which is currently on the brink of collapse – guests at the resort claimed on Saturday evening that entrances and exits had been barricaded and staff members were preventing them from leaving.

Leo Hodgson took to Facebook yesterday evening to update friends and family on the situation, writing that the holiday had become a “nightmare”. 

He wrote: “They’ve locked the doors of our sister hotel so Brits cannot get out tonight for their flight unless they pay, even though they’ve already paid for their holidays.” 

Other desperate tourists were left appealing to Thomas Cook via social media for further information, with one Twitter user sending a picture of a crudely printed bill which was allegedly pushed under his hotel room door at the Les Orangers resort. 

A video from the Les Orangers hotel late on Saturday evening shows bewildered tourists standing at the gates, many of them on their phones in a bid to find out more information.  

Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio Five’s Stephen Nolan the hotel had on Saturday afternoon summoned all guests who were due to leave to go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.

With many tourists refusing to pay on the grounds they had already paid Thomas Cook, security guards were keeping the hotel’s gates shut, refusing to allow guests out, or to let new visitors enter.

“We can’t leave the hotel. I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage,” Mr Farmer said.

Les Orangers, Hammamet Garden, and Thomas Cook have been approached for comment regarding the situation at the resorts, and representatives for the travel company are understood to be making their way to affected holidaymakers. 

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has spoken out to assure holidaymakers that they would not be left stranded abroad if Thomas Cook collapses. 

The airlift is projected to cost some £600m and would be the UK’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation if the company goes bust. 

The travel company is at risk of falling into administration unless it finds £200 million in extra funds.

The possibility of a failure to do so sparked fears that up to 150,000 holidaymakers could be left stranded.

But Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning: “We have got all the contingency planning to make sure no one will be stranded.

“I don’t want to give all the details of it because it depends on the nature of how people are out there, whether they have got a package holiday or whether they just paid for the flights and sorted out something separately.”

He added: “But I can reassure people that in the worst case scenario, the contingency planning is there to avoid people being stranded.”

The firm could go bust on Sunday, company sources have allegedly told the Daily Mail, a collapse which would impact approximately 22,000 staff worldwide, 9,000 of which are based in the UK. 

Pictures: News in pictures

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