Exactly one year after the 178-year-old travel company ceased trading, it’s reinventing itself as an online-only travel agent.
The new ‘Covid-ready’ website is set to initially sell holidays to beach resorts and cities in counties on the UK government’s travel corridor list, including Turkey, Italy and some parts of Greece. Once government restrictions are lifted, further destinations will be added.
Alan French, UK Chief Executive of the new travel agency and former Group Strategy and Technology Director, prior to its collapse, said: “What happened last year was a tragedy at a personal level for many thousands of my former colleagues, our business partners and of course our loyal customers.
“The resilience and affection still felt for the Thomas Cook brand reflects the huge commitment and professionalism of those former colleagues. We are very much in their debt and hope to have their backing as we look to take the brand into a new era.”
The collapse of the company led to 9,000 job losses and the repatriation of around 150,000 holidaymakers, who were left stranded abroad. Mr French pledged that the new travel agency’s customers can be “reassured their money is protected” due to its “robust financial structure”.
He added: “We have reinvented one of the most recognisable names in British travel. Our new business will combine fantastic UK-based customer service with an updated operating model protected by Atol and with the backing of a multibillion-dollar organisation.
“We are launching now clearly aware of the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic. We and our Fosun backers are taking the long view and we want to offer choice, customisation and 24/7 on-holiday customer care to families who wish to travel now and in the future.
“We know Brits are keen to travel but feel nervous about safety and any changes to Government rules on quarantine. We are only selling destinations on the travel corridor list and all the hotels are flexible. We also won’t charge customers a fee to change their holidays if Government rules change.”
The relaunch is backed by Fosun Tourism Group, the Chinese conglomerate that bought the Thomas Cook brand and online assets for £11m in November. Fosun also owns Club Med. The new company employs a total of 50 people, who will work remotely.