Citing the coronavirus epidemic, Tui has invoked force majeure in its contracts with its biggest associates, including four in Cyprus, Petros Theocharides reports for Phileleftheros.
The paper said that the tourism giant has contracts to bring about 600,000 tourists to Cyprus in 2020, most of them from the UK and Germany.
The move will come as another blow to a beleaguered tourism sector which is reeling from the coronavirus crisis.
Airlines have started cancelling flights and the ban from tomorrow to entry to the Republic of Cyprus to everyone except Cypriots, legal residents and those who work or study here, effectively puts a lid on tourist arrivals for at least two weeks.
Only yesterday one of Cyprus’ two hotel associations suggested hotels close until April 30.
“This even now constitutes Force Majeure in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” says the letter from Tui obtained by Phileleftheros.
With immediate effect, Tui’s obligations — including any deposit or prepayment due — are suspended, it added.
Phileleftheros reports that the government is aware of the negative repercussions of the decision on the tourism sector and will be deciding on measures to boost affected companies, their employees as well as other businesses which rely on them.
According to Phileleftheros, Tui has sent similar letters to its associates in Greece, Spain and elsewhere.
Shares in Tui have fallen 57 per cent in the past month and the cost of insuring its debt has jumped almost fourfold since mid-February.
Also on Saturday, the Cyprus News Agency reported that Tui was suspending flights from four UK airports to and from Paphos for today.
On its website, the tour operator said:
“Due to restrictions introduced by the local authorities, we’re sorry to advise that all holidays to Cyprus departing up to and including 24 March have unfortunately had to be cancelled. If you are due to travel in the next two days, you will receive a full refund. We are proactively contacting affected customers departing between 16 and 24 March to find a suitable alternative holiday. Customers who manage to rebook onto an alternative holiday will receive £50 per adult and £25 per child discount off their new holiday cost. If it is absolutely not possible to find a suitable alternative, customers will receive a full refund. All holidays on or after 25 March are currently operating as planned, therefore normal terms and conditions for amendments and cancellations apply. Should the restriction remain in place we will proactively contact affected customers.”