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CHTA raps travel agent

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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THE Caribbean travel and tourism industry has blasted a leading European tour operator after it attempted to discount outstanding invoices.
Thomas Cook, Europe’s second largest tour operator, has deducted five per cent from all August and September arrival invoices issued to hotels across the Caribbean.
Several hotels across the region have been called by the company, which blamed a summer of weak bookings for imposing the cuts.
The influential Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), which represents 35 national hotel association members and their respective member hotels, says it is offering full support to those members that have been contacted by Thomas Cook.
According to the online industry newsletter, Breaking Travel News (BTN), CHTA’s director general & CEO Alec Sanguinetti wrote a letter on behalf of members to Thomas Cook CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa.
“We can’t have any company taking unilateral and unauthorised monetary deductions because they experienced a drop in their earnings, no matter how steeped in history and credibility they have accumulated over the years,” Sanguinetti wrote.
“Tour operator contracts have been negotiated and are currently in place. Contracts are to be upheld by both parties and when this breaks down unilaterally it undermines the entire contracting system.”
BTN said hoteliers in Spain had also been hit with the same “unauthorised cuts”, and have expressed their outrage against Thomas Cook, led by the Association of Hotel Owners of Benidorm and the Costa Blanca (Hosbec).
 Its president Antonio Mayor has accused the tour operator of “blackmail” and called for “a modicum of respect and professional ethics”.
Jamaican-born Sanguinetti is one of the most respected and knowledgeable personalities in Caribbean travel and tourism.
Since taking up the top job at CHTA in 2003, Sanguinetti has set about getting all sectors of Caribbean travel and tourism to pull together to strengthen the region’s position as a leader in world tourism.