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Thomas Cook to evacuate more than 2,000 UK holidaymakers from Cuba after Irma

The tour operator said it is also sending extra support staff to the island, which suffered severe damage due to the extreme weather.

More than 2,000 UK holidaymakers are to be evacuated from Cuba by Thomas Cook following Hurricane Irma.

The tour operator said it is also sending extra support staff to the island, which suffered severe damage due to the extreme weather.

A number of UK tourists have complained about a lack of information and access to resort reps.

Thomas Cook thanked customers for “their continued patience”.

The company said in a statement: “We are working on an evacuation plan for our 2,350 customers in Varadero, to bring all of them home in the coming days.

“We have an additional 26 members of our special assistance team waiting to fly out from the UK to provide further support to customers as soon as we can get into airports in Cuba.

“The safety of our customers is always our first priority and that we continue to follow local and government authority advice.

“All of our customers in Cuba were accommodated in hotels that were built to withstand a hurricane as the worst of the storm passed through.

“We understand that this is a worrying time, both for our customers in resort and friends and family back home watching the news. We are grateful to our customers for their continued patience.”

One customer, Joe, from Manchester, accused Thomas Cook of “leaving us” in Cuba after his flight home on Friday was cancelled, meaning he was still in the country when the hurricane hit.

In a Twitter message he wrote: “Not angry about the fact there was a hurricane. The argument is we were meant to leave before it and were delayed and left in danger, with no guidance.”

He added that there was “no team in resort” and posted photographs of a badly damaged hotel.

Janine Hall sent a message to Thomas Cook saying her disabled sister has been “stranded” in Varadero, Cuba after “begging to fly home Friday” and “needs urgent medication”.

Thomas Cook customer Emma Stothard, who is on holiday in the Dominican Republic, described how she was “so frustrated with the lack of communication from the rep over here”.

Nikki Kershaw, who is also in the Dominican Republic, claimed tour operator Thomson has been “useless”.

She said: “We have not seen our rep. Really upset with them and will be lodging a complaint on the other side of this.”

A spokeswoman for Thomson said tourists arriving in Cuba will “continue their holidays as planned with the support of our resort teams” as the hurricane has moved away.

She said guests in Cuba are “a key focus” as it assesses Hurricane Irma’s impact.

The spokeswoman continued: “For the time being everyone, including our team of reps supporting guests, is being kept for their own safety inside hotels and the full extent of damage to the areas affected is still to be confirmed.

“Thankfully initial reports indicate that none of our customers or staff have been injured, however, we understand what a frightening experience it will have been for them.

“We are offering support to anyone affected from our independent expert, the Centre for Crisis Psychology.

“As a result of the storm, communication channels have been impacted, but we are doing all that we can to keep in regular contact and to update our customers on next steps.

“We have planned flights to operate for customers who have been impacted by the hurricane once the airports have reopened to return them safely to the UK.

“Reps in resort will advise customers once details have been confirmed.”

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