Thomas Cook has denied reports in some Canarian press that the tour operator is on the verge of stopping services to Tenerife. None the less, the company is clearly considering its position with regard to Spain, and particularly the Canary and Balearic Islands.
Reporting its results for the last quarter of 2016, Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said that Thomas Cook would not be drawn into “chasing volume”, and that 2017’s focus would be on value for money. In this respect, the company is looking very hard at Greece, whose economic situation has resulted in some very cheap offers being available. Croatia and Bulgaria, too, seem to be offering good value, and the company’s policy seems to be that if Spain cannot or will not compete, with price rices of some 8% in hotels, then Spain will be the loser.
And of course, in terms of Spain, the Canaries is the number one destination, and so would be the first to feel the pinch if Thomas Cook operations were reduced or even halted. Jorge Marichal, president of Ashotel, says that the possible destination shift is the result of Thomas Cook’s own economic problems, rather than any fault of Tenerife’s tourism pricing policy, and that plenty of other operators are ready to step in to offer a service if Thomas cook leaves a vacancy. Indeed, says Marichal, they are already competing strongly which is one reason that Tenerife’s pricing is so healthy. Another reason, of course, is the winter season that Greece and the like cannot offer, and so the Canaries will always have a year-round appeal to those who formerly chose Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia.
In reply to my request for a statement on their intentions Thomas Cook said “We’re taking around the same number of customers to Spain this year as we did last year. Spain remains our top destination and so we’ve actually put on six more flights from the UK in 2017”. It does seem, however, that if Greece, Croatia and Bulgaria go well, and if our prices continue to rise, that may not remain the case.