The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) is calling on TUI Group to reimburse Caribbean hotels for services received.
In April, CHTA appealed for a response from those tour operators which had failed to reimburse hotels for first quarter stays by travellers who had made their payments to the tour operators well in advance of their travel.
“Most tour operators honoured their obligations, and we have been pleased to see that a number of those who had delayed reimbursements have settled since our appeal in April,” said Frank Comito, CHTA chief executive.
“But millions of dollars in reimbursements remain obligated and are jeopardizing the hoteliers’ survival and ability to meet obligations, like taxes and labour expenses, because of the holdout by TUI and several other tour operators.”
In a letter to Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI United Kingdom & Ireland, Comito said he wanted the company to join its competitors in settling debts to Caribbean hotels whose survival is under threat.
The CHTA chief executive also described efforts by TUI to advance amendments to payment terms for future contracts - which are even more onerous for hoteliers - and would be tied to receiving the quarter one payments that are contractually owed, as “unreasonable and untenable”.
By failing to pay, TUI appears to be in breach of existing contractual obligations, Comito said, noting that these distressed hotels have been longstanding loyal partners, directly contributing to the build of TUI’s Caribbean book of business.
Comito said that despite numerous requests to publicly identify tour operators that were withholding reimbursements, the association had refrained from doing so in the interest of long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships.
However, Comito charged that the failure to act expediently left CHTA with no choice but to shine further light on the matter.
He advised that in addition to TUI, the Canada-based tour operator Sunwing has also been cited by Caribbean hoteliers as still withholding payments.
Comito reported that on Friday he received a response from TUI which, regrettably, provided no immediate redress for financially impacted Caribbean hotels.
In a statement, TUI Group responded: “We have long-lasting and very successful relationships with our partners in destinations which remain intact during these unprecedented times.
“TUI has put a number of measures in place to return the business back to normal operations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
“For the season which ended in March, TUI is currently liaising with all its partner hotels to discuss a payment plan for the remaining amount. We have been preparing to re-start travel operations as travel restrictions in Europe gradually are resuming and our local teams are in direct contact with all our partners in the destinations.”