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Villa operators sought to reassure travel agents that the villas market is “alive and well” despite the decision by Tui Group’s Specialist Holidays Group to close Meon Villas at the end of next month.
Tui blamed declining demand for individual villas and increasing popularity of hotel villas, featured by sister brand Sovereign.
A spokeswoman said: “We have seen less demand for individual villas, and an increased demand for hotel villas, so we took the decision to move this focus from Meon to Sovereign.
“Within Sovereign, we already have a sizeable collection of hotel villas, and we will look to grow this in the future.
“We are speaking to the villa owners and, while some will be dropped, some may transfer to the Sovereign programme.”
Mark Bloxham, managing director of rival trade villa specialist Villas4You, said the decision to close Meon would enable Tui to focus on its other villa programmes, including Thomson Villas with Pools, and did not reflect a downturn in the villas market as a whole.
He said the decision was unlikely to be linked to last week’s collapse of Exclusive Escapes, which also sold villas but operated to Turkey, a destination hit by its perceived proximity to Syria.
Bloxham said the market for individual villas continued to grow, although contracting units could be “an inefficient use of contracting and product time” for larger operators.
“It is sad to see a brand name leaving the industry,” he said.
“Exclusive Escapes ceasing to trade and the Meon brand dissolved could be misconstrued.
“The truth is that the villa rental market is growing and big competitors such as Villas.com and Airbnb are bringing in new audiences. We are seeing double-digit growth through the trade every month. Customers are demanding villas.”
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