Leisure travel lifts Eurostar as firms stay put

Marion Dakers
TOURISTS are flocking to the Chunnel for their European trips, but hard-up business travellers have cut back on journeys, Eurostar said yesterday.

The train operator said passenger numbers rose two per cent to 4.8m in the first half of the year, bolstered by robust growth in leisure travel.

The number of passengers originating from outside Europe rose by a whopping 11 per cent, with a surge in tourists from the US and the Far East travelling by Eurostar.

The firm said the Diamond Jubilee in June was its busiest ever weekend, and that Eurostar’s role as an Olympic sponsor will deliver a further boost.

Overall, sales rose one per cent on a year ago to hit £425m.

But chief executive Nicolas Petrovic was less upbeat about business traffic, which weakened in the second quarter after a flat start to the year.

“Whilst leisure sales have held up over the last six months, there is no doubt that corporate clients and business travellers, particularly in the financial services industry, are feeling the squeeze and are cutting back on their travel budgets as they adapt to the economic environment,” he said.