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Published on Friday, June 30, 2017

Terror attacks are 'the new normal', says Thomas Cook CEO

Thomas Cook Group CEO Peter Fankhauser has urged the travel industry to work together to improve health and safety overseas.

He said terror attacks and natural catastrophes were 'the new normal' and tour operators needed to work together to deal with them.

"If something goes terribly wrong we have to stick together in the interest of our clients," he said. "Everyone's first priority is to look after their own clients, but we need to make sure we aren't flying out of a country with empty seats."

In his first industry address since taking the top job at Thomas Cook in 2015, Fankhauser said tour operators shouldn't seek to gain a competitive advantage in such situations.

"We have worked very hard in the past few years to make sure we provide a safe environment for customers," said Frankhauser. "If we want to redraw the map, as an industry we need to start sharing best practice and drive improvements in hotels.

"We should as well ahare our expertise and data. Then we can improve standards across the board."

He urged other companies to join the independent Safer Tourism Foundation, a charity launched by Thomas Cook following the deaths of two children from carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel in Corfu in 2006.

At an inquest into the deaths of Christi and Bobby Shepherd, a coroner said there had been a breach in Thomas Cook's duty of care to the brother and sister. The operator was also criticised for its treatment of their family following their deaths.

Fankhauser acknowledged that it had taken 'a long time' to launch the charity, into which it has put £1 million, but he said 'we wanted to get it right'. It was initially set up to to fund research and raise awareness of travel risks, in particular the dangers of carbon monoxide.

"Born out of a tragedy, the foundation will also look at other risks to holidaymakers," he said.

"This is an independent foundation that will only be successful if it works right across the industry. "

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