Virtuoso said it is ending its partnership with Cox &
Kings in the United States and Dubai because of the continuing financial problems
of the tour operator's affiliate in India.
The luxury travel agency network confirmed Tuesday that it
terminated the partnership on Sept. 20.
Cox & Kings India Ltd., one of the world's oldest travel
companies, in recent months has fallen behind on $100 million in debt payments,
forcing the closure of two businesses in
the U.K. and a suspension of its ability to sell airline tickets on credit.
"As part of Virtuoso's contract-compliance process,
Virtuoso asked both companies to provide us with financial assurances,"
Virtuoso said in a statement. "However, with continued negative financial
reports from their India operations, our members began to lose confidence,
which resulted in their termination. We have shared the news with our
membership and recommend that members reconfirm reservations if they have
bookings with either company, and contact the individual hotels being used in
the tours to confirm details."
The move comes as the travel world is reeling from the
collapse of another of the world's oldest travel companies, U.K.-based Thomas
Los Angeles-based Cox & Kings, The Americas, on Tuesday
had not responded to requests for comment on the move by Virtuoso.
In a statement in August, after the Indian company missed a
fourth debt payment, the U.S. office said it was a direct subsidiary of Cox
& Kings Travel Ltd. UK, which itself operates independently from Cox &
Kings Ltd. (India). Both were operating as normal, the statement said.
The company also emphasized that "as an active member
of USTOA, significant customer protection is required and carried. The business
also holds supplemental insurance policies, such as errors & omissions,
which are well above industry standards, and does so to offer additional peace
of mind to our clients."