HOLIDAYS giant TUI Travel has reported a surge in bookings for next year as families look to avoid another miserable British summer.
The Thomson and First Choice operator said UK bookings for next summer were already up 10% against the same period last year.
And the European travel giant’s programme for this summer is now almost fully sold after an improvement in UK booking trends over the last two months.
Sales in its key UK market were up 5% for this summer as a whole after a 10% rise in average selling prices offset a 6% reduction in its capacity.
There was an improved trend in overall summer bookings from the UK, down 2% in August and September against the 5% decline in the rate seen at the end of July.
As well as the poor weather, a weakened euro has proved attractive for many Britons opting for short-haul destinations such as Majorca, Ibiza and Menorca.
However the weaker euro is a double-edged sword for TUI as the exchange rate is also impacting profits from its northern and central European markets.
TUI added that bookings for this winter have been encouraging and that UK bookings for next summer are up 10%, with a slight increase in capacity.
It said of next year: “We are significantly outperforming the market and average selling prices are up by 3%.”
TUI said it remained on track to meet expectations for the financial year ending this weekend. Numis Securities has forecast that pre-tax profits will rise by £9m to £369m in the period.
Chief executive Peter Long said the company was “very pleased“ with its summer performance as it benefits from strong demand for exclusive products such as its Thomson Sensatori resorts, which are aimed at the high end of the market.
He added: “Our continued outperformance in a challenging macroeconomic environment demonstrates our robust strategy is delivering clear results.”
Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said in a note: “TUI is confident that the period of heavy restructuring is now over and that the margin outlook is improving, especially in the UK.
“These two factors will, we believe, lead to better quality earnings growth and stronger cashflow, underpinning solid dividend growth.”