With the travel and hospitality industry reeling from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, Thomas Cook — one of India’s top holiday brands — is offering shorter, and far more affordable, European vacations.
These five-day vacations will start from just Rs 19,700, and also come with EMI payment options.
However, the list of destinations comprise lower-cost cities of Europe, rather than the traditional, more expensive favorites like Paris, Milan or London. The focus will be on cities in Central and Eastern Europe & the Nordics, the Baltics, Balkans & Eurasia.
Among the cities offered are Istanbul, Budapest, Salzburg, Vienna, Helsinki, Krakow, Prague and Zagreb.
Some of the emerging destinations like Riga and Almaty will also figure in the list, Thomas Cook said.
The company will offer branded city center hotels, and customers can upgrade their accommodation to four-star and five-star hotels via optional payments, it added.
The travel and tourism industry has been the worst hit of all industries affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the highly infectious nature of the virus, people have been asked to avoid all unnecessary exposure to strangers and put off or cancel any traveling plans they may have.
Moreover, flights — an unavoidable part of any overseas vacation — included in the list of high risk activities as far as chances of contracting the virus are concerned.
Despite this, many countries have restarted flights after making it mandatory for passengers to wear N-95 masks, face shields and gloves while onboard.
Thomas Cook said it has will offer “meticulous health & safety” on these trips under the company’s “Assured Program” in partnership with Apollo Clinics.
The new line-up of packages, branded ‘City Escapes’ is focused on the safety of the holidaymakers and offers “carefully selected branded hotels, with both transfers and sightseeing tours arranged on a private basis”, it said, adding that its overseas medical insurance-cover includes Covid-19 related hospitalization.
To lure passengers, it has kept booking charges at just Rs 5,000 and has waived cancellation charges up to 5 days before departure.
“The 4 night-5 day City Escapes includes all the essential elements needed for a mini-break: airport-hotel-airport transfers, quality accommodation at branded city-centre hotels and breakfast,” Thomas Cook said, adding that the packages will be offered from September onwards.
“Adequate free-time allows customers to top-up their holiday with optional tours based on their unique interests, or to explore the city at leisure. For the adventurous, City Escapes can be clubbed to include two or more cities per trip,” the company promised.
Even though most travelers may worry about safety, such offers are likely to be particularly attractive to people who are supposed to have already developed immunity to the COVID-19 virus, such as those who have got infected and recovered recently from the virus.