Tui Travel boss Peter Long does not foresee a further fall in UK consumer sentiment this year after reporting a 3% decline in summer bookings since the end of March.
The fall has left Tui Travel UK trading in line with the same time a year ago after being ahead on 2010 bookings since the launch of summer 2011 brochures.
However, Long said: “We are outperforming the UK market.” The Tui Travel group chief executive attributed this to “the strength of our brand”.
Trading across the UK market is reported to have deteriorated in April after being 1% down on summer 2010 at the end March, according to industry analyst GfK Ascent. However, both Tui Travel and Thomas Cook have reported strong sales since the end of last month.
Long told Travel Weekly: “We see consumer sentiment at a low level, but I don’t see it deteriorating further. People are aware their disposable income is under pressure, and there is a lot of repositioning of spending. But my view is the attitude to the annual holiday has not changed.”
He added: “There are headwinds in the UK and it is not easy, but we are in a pretty good position.” Long described the current oil price as “not helpful” despite the falls in price at the end of last week, saying: “I would be happy with oil at $90-$100 a barrel, but we are where we are.
At least we have the ability to absorb the price more easily [than other companies].” Long reported group half-year losses of £307 million for the six months to March despite a £15 million improvement on last year, with the UK contributing more than half the losses.
Long also said Thomson Holidays would not follow sister brand First Choice in selling only all-inclusive properties - a move recently announced for next summer.
He said: “Thomson sells a lot of all-inclusive and it will not drop all-inclusive. But it will never become [solely] all-inclusive. It provides a broad range of holidays as the market leader for 30 years.”
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