Thomas Cook, the 179-year-old U.K. airline and tour operator that left hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded around the world when it abruptly shut down last year, is back.
The company is now positioning itself as an online travel agency that aims to take at least some of the guesswork out of pandemic travel. Thomas Cook’s relaunched website sells vacation packages only to destinations that won’t require travelers to quarantine upon returning home — a list that now includes Italy, Turkey, and parts of Greece.
Travel to Asia, the Americas, and Africa is currently unavailable through Thomas Cook.
“We know that we don’t have many destinations available. But we’d rather you take your well-earned break than book something that gets changed,” the Thomas Cook website reads.
The company also “won’t charge customers a fee to change their holidays if government rules change,” Thomas Cook’s U.K. CEO Alan French told The Guardian. It’s only selling flights — not train or ferry-based itineraries — and isn’t offering multi-stop journeys at the moment.
The Thomas Cook brand is now owned by Fosun Tourism Group, a Chinese conglomerate that also owns Club Med and was its largest shareholder. Thomas Cook previously operated 560 offices across the U.K. and more than 9,000 employees. The new Thomas Cook has just 50, all of them remote, according to The Guardian. At its peak, the company had more than 22,000 staff members in 16 countries, the BBC reported.
Thomas Cook is currently selling packages to Iceland, Turkey, and Greece. As travel restrictions change, it plans to add Portugal, Spain, and Croatia to that list.
Its journeys are likely to be more bespoke as travelers increasingly seek their own space and more tailor-made experiences, a spokesman told The Guardian.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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