Thomas Cook has called on the industry to “endorse, support and lead” the drive for the European Commission to bring in minimum health and safety standards for hotels.
Speaking at the ITT conference, an emotional Salman Syed, Cook’s UK managing director said legislation was required following the inquest into the deaths of two children.
Bobby and Christianne Shepherd, aged six and seven, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2006 while on a Cook holiday in Corfu. An inquest found the firm had breached its duty of care.
Syed said: “As a father myself, the tragedy in Corfu was one that no one wants ever to happen again, either to Thomas Cook or ever within the whole travel industry.
“So I want to use this platform to ask you all to endorse and support the work that Abta is doing to call for minimum safety standards through regulation.
“We have to move from the green paper, which was the first step in November. We need to move to legislative action and I ask you all to support Abta’s drive to get the commission to take action.”
Syed was backed by senior travel agency bosses. David Speakman, chairman of Travel Counsellors said: “If you are going to be in Europe, if there’s one thing that should be done it is to have a health and safety certification regulated by Europe.”
And Alistair Rowland, Midcounties Co-operative, said: “Cooks has taken the brunt of this but it could have been anyone of us. It’s a wake-up call.
“There should be a common European standard and Abta certainly should be the central point for lobbying for it.”
Referring to Cook’s much-criticised handling of the tragedy, Syed told ITT delegates: “I want to talk about the Corfu tragedy and the mistakes that we have made. Not just in the last month but in the last nine years.
“I don’t want to talk about the family as that has become a direct conversation between Thomas Cook and the family, but I want to admit that we got things wrong.
“We needed to apologise earlier and show compassion. We have learned from this to be more human and that starts with an apology. Then we need to ensure there is some action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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