Tourists enjoy a sunny day at the Playa de Palma beach in Palma de Mallorca.
The Mediterranean's leading tourist hotspots were bracing Tuesday for a "tsunami" of losses, which could amount to hundreds of millions of euros, following the devastating collapse of British tour operator Thomas Cook.
Beyond the urgent need to repatriate hundreds of thousands of tourists, industry professionals were agonising over the huge sum in unpaid bills.
The British package holiday giant had established a practice of paying a hotel's bills only 90 days after the departure of the guest, raising the question of the huge sums racked up over the busy summer period, several hotel sources said.
In Spain, where the company operated 55 hotels -- the highest number in any country -- the debt could reach as high as 200 million euros ($220 million), the Exceltur tourist association said.
Legal action looms
Faced with huge financial losses, which several industry figures referred to as a "tsunami", Italy's Federalberghi said it had made contact with counterparts across Europe to coordinate legal action.
In Spain, Thomas Cook was the second biggest tour operator, bringing in 7.3 million tourists in 2018 -- around nine percent of the total visitors, according to an AFP calculation based on figures from national airport operator AENA.
In the Canary Islands, one in four holidaymakers were flown in by the package holiday specialist, the local hotel federation said.
Carrier shortage in Canaries
In many countries, hoteliers have already turned to their respective governments for help, with Turkey -- where Thomas Cook accounts for some three percent of tourists -- mooting a package of support of up to 50 million euros.
In Greece and Spain, hotel industry representatives were on Tuesday holding urgent meetings with government representatives.
In Morocco, where Thomas Cook accounted for some 100,000 holidaymakers out of an overall total of 12 million, the outlook appeared less severe.
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