Belfast Telegraph

Sun-seekers snapping up more long-haul holidays and cruises says Tui Group

Thomson owner Tui Group said British sun-seekers were snapping up more long-haul holidays and cruises as concern over terrorist attacks and political turmoil continue to blight markets in Turkey and North Africa.

The travel giant's n orthern region, which includes the UK market, recorded an 11% and 10% jump in revenues for the winter and summer periods respectively.

The rise was underpinned by a healthy rise in bookings by British holidaymakers, with revenues climbing by a fifth for the winter of 2016/17 and by 11% for the summer of 2017.

Chief executive Friedrich Joussen said winter trading had been helped by a "good performance" from its hotels and resorts arm, while summer bookings were in line with forecasts.

He added: "Whilst the impact of macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges is evident in certain source markets and destinations, our balanced portfolio of markets and destinations, our focus on growth in own hotel and cruise brands and our strong balance sheet put us in a robust position."

The group said winter revenues had been boosted by a growing appetite for long-haul and cruise holidays from the UK, coupled with a stronger demand for trips to the Canary Islands, Spain and Cape Verde.

Summer holiday bookings were being driven by rising demand for holidays to the western Mediterranean and the Caribbean, the firm added.

However, bookings to Turkey and Egypt suffered, as holidaymakers remain cautious about the destinations following the bombing of a plane from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and a violent attempted coup by the Turkish army, which has been followed by a string of terrorist attacks in the country.

It comes despite rival Thomas Cook saying on Tuesday that it had seen demand returning to Turkey and Egypt.

Tui said it had sold 48% of its programme for the summer season and 97% for the winter, with UK demand helped by the launch of the TUI Discovery 2 cruise ship in May last year.

It said total source market revenues for the winter and summer periods were up 9% for both periods.

Mr Joussen added: "Winter 2016/17 is closing out as expected, with a good performance by hotels and resorts, cruise and growth in source market revenues, increasingly booked via our direct and online channels.

"Overall, summer 2017 remains in line with our expectations, with almost half of the source markets' programme sold, further openings scheduled in our group hotel brands, and cruise ship launches in both TUI Cruises and the UK."

The group, which flogged its British travel brand Travelopia to private equity giant KKR for £325 million in February, said moves to sell parts of the business and strong cash flows were financing the transformation of the business into a hotel and cruise-focused brand.

It also stood by its forecasts for the business, saying it expects 10% growth in underlying earnings for this year.