News that Thomas Cook Hotel Investments and Swiss hotel development group LMEY Investments, raised €40 million to invest in hotels around the Mediterranean with Greece’s Piraeus Bank bears watching today. With the buzzword “sustainability” dripping from every other foreign investment press release, Greece like a huge expansionist target. A look behind this latest news reveals still more of the Greek fire sale.
The suggestion of this most recent Thomas Cook news promises new
“There are plenty of great spots on large Greek islands to develop new resorts, although Greek public-sector bureaucracy can create delays.”
Enter Piraeus Bank and its “priority” to fund more tourism assets to invest in over and above the €2 billion already tied up in what this news terms as “healthy entrepreneurship.” There’s little doubt this latest Thomas Cook move toward operating more “own-brand” hotels will be “healthy” for investors if not for the public and the environments of the aforementioned islands. Let me illustrate here something I’ve theorized about the Greek economic disaster all along.
Thomas Cook’s planned next move with LMEY involves “acquiring underperforming, distressed and underinvested hotels in Thomas Cook’s core destinations, in order to transform them into own-brand hotels. So, on the face of this strategy, TC’s moves do indeed seem “healthy.” But underneath lie the struggling hoteliers and their staff that Thomas Cook, TUI, and other travel giants have helped bash into submission. All-inclusive and El Cheapo tourists pouring into Greece with scarcely a shekel to their names, this is the reality of sub-prime tourism. It’s not that the world needs only luxury travelers, but the fact Thomas Cook and TUI have tilted the balance is damnable in my book.
Greece welcomed more than 6 million travelers as of August of 2018, according to the Bank of Greece numbers, and this is an increase of 4.8 percent year on year. However, retail and even hotel revenues have not risen accordingly. And the new airport project headed to Crete will only exacerbate the situation. Crete does not need “more” tourists, the island needs a “better” tourist balance. Athens, Thomas Cook, TUI and the other stakeholders in “healthy business” would sink the island with penniless German road workers, instead of middle-class Americans who never saw Knossos Palace of Samaria Gorge. But let’s move on.
Very few reading this story will know that the largest stakeholder in Thomas Cook is a fund called Invesco Asset Management Ltd., which owns about 14% of the company’s stock compared to Guang Chang Guo, which owns 13%. Even fewer will know that Invesco is a distressed asset privateering fund more or less owned by U.S. President Donald Trump’s
United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Louis Ross Jr. I don’t want to get into a holding company investigation here, but who better to start buying up ruined Greek business assets? And you thought Thomas Cook executives just want aquamarine dreams for tired old United Kingdom pensioners. As a side note, it is rumored that Ross is the distressed asset pirate captain of none other than N M Rothschild & Sons.
Ross’ trip to Thessaloniki to “instruct” Greeks how to deregulate the economy to follow America is the capper for my story today. The headline reads “Greece could follow the US and deregulate to push growth, says Commerce Secretary Ross,” which for the Greeks will certainly mean an international corporate feeding frenzy on this country’s legacy. Ross has poured funds (CNBC) into distressed Greek banks in the last few years, so you can expect companies he owns stakes end to make out like bandits in the near future. Stories like the one from Greek City Times showing the U.S. Commerce Secretary alongside the grinning Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras tell us it’s payout time for those who ruined Greece’s economy. Now Tsipras with the nudge of Trump and
With the promise of jobs and prosperity, Greeks have been led down the primrose path into a touristic slavery society. Here in Heraklion hoteliers and vendors struggle to smile in a land where friendliness and hospitality are world famous. The corporations will end up killing the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg here, you mark my words. Anytime you see a pirate like Ross swimming around your island, you can bet there will be blood in the water soon. Lest we forget the excessive liquidity and financial deregulation that caused Greece financial collapse in the first place.
Allow me to interject an example of Thomas Cook “sustainability” for a Crete hotel here. If you search holiday deal on the company’s website you’ll quickly find a wonderful adults only hotel on one of Crete iconic bays outside Agios Nikolaos. SENTIDO Elounda Blu is a wonderful property right on the cliffs overlooking Mirabello Gulf, the resort is just a few meters from the beach. Now get this. Thomas Cook is offering a week with flights from and to London’s Gatwick included for two persons at half-board at this resorts for just over £1,000. This price includes transfers from Heraklion as well.
Thomas Cook’s moves in Greece are controlled by Ross’ Invesco and Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, along with those who stand behind. The Greek people need to scrutinize closely all the burgeoning “deals” arising out of Tsipras’ alleged exit from the bailout. None of these moves are as simple as “healthy entrepreneurship,” and if Greeks don’t pay attention their legacy will disappear beneath totally unsustainable supra-capitalism. Thomas Cook even offers to let guest pay by the month to fund their getaway. Now please answer two questions for me. How much will these two guests who just financed their dirt cheap luxury vacation spend in the local economy of Lassithi prefecture on Crete? Secondly, how in
Crete and Rhodes, and much of the rest of Greece
Hate me if you will Thomas Cook and TUI, what you are up to cannot help the Greek people.
[…] the reality of burgeoning Greek tourism can only be assessed looking at the overall impacts. I’ve highlighted previously some of the negative trends being set by companies like TUI, Thomas Cook, and others. Now the […]