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Caribbean hotels’ survival threatened as operators delay paying bills

Holidaymakers struggling to get refunds from tour operators for cancelled holidays might be surprised to hear that hotels are also struggling to get money they’re owed for trips completed as far back as January this year.

Some tour operators have claimed that they can’t refund customers because some of the money they paid for their holidays had already been handed over to hotels before their trips were cancelled due to the spread of Covid-19.

However, hotels in the Caribbean say they haven’t even been paid by tour operators for accommodation guests used in January, February and March this year, let alone for later trips that were subsequently cancelled.

Some hotels claim they’ll have to close if tour operators don’t pay up, and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) has written to tour operators’ organisations to ask them for their help in encouraging tour operators to settle their bills.

The CHTA says 69% of hotels in the Caribbean are owed money for the first three months of this year, not just by UK operators but by operators in the rest of Europe, the USA and Canada as well.

Hotels are owed an average of $219,000, but several are owed more than $1 million and one is owed $15 million. Small and mid-sized independently-owned hotels are most at risk, said the CHTA.

Tour operators have warned hotels that it could take two to three months longer than normal to settle their bills, blaming staff shortages due to stay-at-home restrictions and their own cash-flow problems.

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, Which Travel? has produced a list of travel companies that are promptly refunding customers – and it’s naming and shaming those who aren’t.

Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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