Hoteliers in Portugal, Spain, Greece and other popular holiday destinations are furious over Thomas Cook taking 5% from payments for hotel bookings.

The travel firm says that the unilateral decision came after tour operators in Britain suffered a number of hardships this year, notably the impact created by the cloud of volcanic ash that loomed for weeks.

It also cited trouble from pleasant weather in the United Kingdom, interest in the World Cup and Britain’s elections and emergency budget.

In contrast, the move, in which the firm shaved off 5% of all its hotel invoices from August and September, has enraged many who say they were caught off guard.

The European hotel trade group, Hotrec, called the move by Thomas Cook unfair and unwarranted and went so far as to say it was in breach of contract.

The group also accuses the firm of threatening hoteliers that it would cease future business should they not accept the reduced payments. Citing abuse of market dominance, Hotrec has said it was considering legal action via European or local authorities.

The news comes after a large reduction in the amount of large scales tour operators available in Europe following the merging of First Choice with Tui and MyTravel with Thomas Cook in 2007. The mergers took place despite objections by rival operators such as XL.