TUI TRAVEL said yesterday it was continuing to steal market share from its struggling rival Thomas Cook after an increase in UK summer holiday bookings helped offset weakness in France.
The owner of Thomson Holidays and First Choice said trading to 25 March “remains in line with our expectations”, including an improvement in winter bookings, which it said with just a few weeks left until the end of the season, were 90 per cent booked – higher than last year.
The group also said that almost half – 48 per cent – of its summer holiday programme was booked up, while the average selling price was up around eight per cent.
“Summer 2012 volumes have improved in all key markets since our last update. We are pleased with the development of bookings and pricing in the UK, where we continue to out-perform the market and have a strong performance in online sales,” chief executive Peter Long said.
Tour operators have been increasing their focus on specialised holiday packages compared to mainstream bucket and spade holidays to destinations like the Canaries which have seen a fall in consumer demand.
These specialised holidays already account for 63 per cent of all Tui’s UK bookings, with bookings rising by eight per cent year-on-year, helping to offset a six per cent fall at its mainstream business.
TUI said yesterday that demand for holidays to destinations in North Africa had remained weak due to social unrest in the region last year, particularly in France, where summer bookings dropped sharply to 17 per cent.