TUI TRAVEL, the world’s biggest tour operator, said yesterday that summer holiday bookings had risen as rain-soaked northern Europeans sought out the sun and kept tight control on their budgets with package deals.
The group, which owns Thomson and First Choice, said it had sold around 86 per cent of its summer holidays by the end of June and had fewer holidays left to sell compared with the same point last year.
The gloomy weather offset weaker demand for holidays in crisis-hit Greece, chief executive Peter Long told reporters.
“Northern Europe has been pretty consistently bad from a weather perspective over the last couple of months and that has benefitted us with people deciding to book [holidays],” he said.
TUI Travel said underlying operating profit fell 16 per cent to £74m in the three months to the end of June, primarily because the Easter holidays fell in its second quarter as opposed to the third quarter in 2011. Group revenues fell two per cent to £3.69bn, while operating margin dropped 0.3 points to two per cent.
The firm said the UK, the Nordic region and Germany had all delivered solid growth during the period but that its French business continued to underperform because of a slower than expected recovery in North African markets. TUI said winter 2012-13 sales started well and that it was confident of meeting full year expectations.
City A.M. Reporter