Caribtours boss urges hotels to name firms changing terms

The boss of luxury operator Caribtours has called on a hotel association to name the firms which have changed payment terms.

Paul Cleary, managing director of Caribtours, encouraged the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association (CHTA) to “call out” the operators which it says have altered terms, with some stretching payment to up to 120 days after travel.

Cleary said operators which were paying suppliers and refunding clients were being placed under “the same cloud of suspicion” as those which are withholding payments.

His comments come a week after the CHTA announced that some hotel members were at risk of closure due to late payment from operators for services rendered during the first quarter of this year. The association said the average amount owed to hotels by tour operators was $219,000.

It emerged last week that both dnata and Tui had adjusted payment terms in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Cleary said the association should have “courage in its convictions” by outing tour operators.

He added: “The CHTA needs to be brave and say which operators have changed payment terms. If you’re owed money, you go after that money and then if nothing happens, you take action.

“A lot of good companies are doing their best to pay suppliers and hotel partners, and also issue refunds. I feel like the CHTA has backed away from a fight and as a result has unintentionally implicated all UK tour operators.

“This isn’t just paying a hotel a bit late, this is changing payment terms and those doing it should be called out for it, otherwise it places us all under the same cloud of suspicion.”

Cleary said his brand was working hard to do “the right thing by agents and their customers”.

He said the operator was working alongside agents to get clients to rebook or accept refund credit notes, of which 72% of customers have done.

He said refunds were a last resort but were being made. “We make no bones about the fact that we want people to rebook or take a credit note, but we know the PTRs and our obligation to the law so we are refunding.

“We have refunded a lot of money, but it’s only a loss for now because I firmly believe that they will come back I the long-term knowing they had a good experience with us.”

He said the brands next challenge was working with suppliers to keep 2021 prices in line with this year.

The CHTA said Caribtours had not delayed any payments and “many other tour operators” have “met their financial obligations” with Caribbean hotel operators.

But it did not name those that had delayed payments.

It added: “The impacted hotels are well aware of those tour operators which have met their financial obligations to them vs. those who have not, as are the tour operators who have withheld reimbursements. We believe that how some tour operators handle this matter will affect long-term business relationships and those who have met their obligations will see a greater willingness to also work together to support one another as we come out of this crisis.

“It is our hope that by highlighting the problem it will prompt those who are part of the problem to rectify the situation.”

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