Hotel bodies in the Canary Islands have written to operators including Tui Group to object to them withholding payments for last winter.

The Hosteltur tourism news website reported hotel association Ashotel, industry federation FEHT, and Asofeur and Asolan, which represent members in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, have written a joint letter to Tui bosses.

Tui Group has told Spanish hotel partners they will receive 25% of monies owned for January to March before the end of the coronavirus crisis travel lockdown and the rest in staged payments of 25% after that time.

Jorge Marichal González, president of Ashotel and also of CEHAT, the Spanish hotel and tourism association, confirmed the letter was sent last week to Tui and four other tour operators.

He said the situation in The Canaries was particularly acute as it has a busy winter season and a lot of payments remained outstanding.

“We need to respect each other, and we need to sit around a table and talk. We need to co-operate,” he said. “We have been very happy working with Tui for many years, but the situation is also very risky for us. Tui has been a big part of our past and I’m sure they’ll be a big part of our future, but we need them to be flexible.

“These are difficult circumstances, but different hotels are in different situations. We do not understand why there has to be the same policy for everybody. We are not asking for money in advance but money for services which have been provided in the last four or five months.”

In the letter sent to Tui, the operator was accused of abusing its dominant position and the four hotel groups said they “strongly rejected” the proposal to defer first quarter 2020 payments.

They also accused the operator of using hotelier’s money to finance itself, and challenged the “perverse” situation arising from its ownership of its own hotels and tourism services.

The group said that the “unilateral decision” to defer payments was a practice that “could be interpreted as abuse of a dominant position, which is contrary to Spanish competition laws”.

And they added: “It is time for you to reconsider your unfair, abusive and unilateral claims, which also place our associates in extremely complicated positions facing their workers, suppliers and other participants in the common business.”

Tui Group declined to add anything beyond the statement it gave in relation to the new deferred winter payment terms.

That statement said: “As we’ve mentioned before, we have long-lasting and very successful relationships with our partners in destinations which remain intact also during these unprecedented times.

“Tui has made significant amounts of advance payments to its hoteliers for the summer season 2020 and we are in close contact with them preparing a re-start of operations when travel resumes.

“In these unprecedented times, we are focused on working together with our partners in our destinations. We are working step by step on setting up internal processes, so as to be prepared to return to normal procedures as quickly as we can.

“As soon as travel restrictions ease, we’re confident we, together with our partners, will be able to offer the best product available for our customers.”