Tui Group chief executive Fritz Joussen has given the clearest signal yet that he is not a believer in third party distribution.

“We have very little independent sales in the UK and the Nordics and that is a good thing. We have more in Germany, but I am a big fan of direct distribution.”

His comments came just 24 hours after Marella Cruises managing director Chris Hackney told Travel Weekly that third party agents were a key part of Marella’s distribution strategy.

But speaking on board Tui’s newest ship Marella Explorer, as it was Christened in Palma, Joussen said: “The UK business is a great business and very successful – one of the best in the group.  So if they decide to do it [sell through third party agents], then they can do what they like as long as they remain successful.”

And he added: “If Chris [Hackney] wants to sell on the moon, as long as he doesn’t fiddle with the brand, and stays as successful as Marella is in the UK, then that’s fine.”

Commenting on the rebrand from Thomson to Tui, Joussen said: “Everyone has done an amazing job. Brand recognition for Tui after just a short time, is now at the same level as it was for Thomson after 50 years. That is quite an achievement.”

More: Marella Cruises says sales through third party agents are ‘key’