TUI Travel, the owner of Thomson Holidays, has revealed its summer bookings have improved, fairing considerably better that its main competitor, Thomas Cook.

The company, Europe’s largest tour operator, revealed that overall trading was in line with expectations, with bookings as of March 25 down 6%, compared with a 7% decline published two months earlier. Winter bookings are currently 90% full – an improvement on last year’s performance.

TUI went on to reveal that almost half of its summer programme was booked, while the average selling price was up around 8%. Its performance continues to outperform the market and it continues to make gains on Thomas Cook.

Its improved performance was driven by demand for holidays exclusively available through TUI, but disappointing sales of holidays in North Africa, where the Arab Spring hit tourism hard, has affected the company’s overall performance.

Thomas Cook went on a publicity offensive when it encountered financial difficulties last year, with adverts in national newspapers reassuring customers that it was safe to book holidays despite fears of its collapse.

TUI, which offers holidays departing from a number of airports in the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, wasted little time in seeking to capitalise on its rival’s misfortune by taking out its own advertisements, which said: “Another holiday company may be experiencing turbulence, but we are in really great shape.”

Copyright © Press Association 2012

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