AS the curtain closes on the 2017 season, Thomas Cook has offered a small crumb of positive news.
Turkey and Egypt are said to have attracted more British holiday bookings over the summer.
Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook, said general demand – up by about 11 percent – had picked up “as customers look for quality and value”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Both destinations are wonderful countries, with great hotels, great beaches, nice people, and it’s really good value.
“People want to go back. We are not a security company; as long as we have the advice of the Foreign Office that we can fly to Egypt and Turkey, we offer a great product.”
Many holidaymakers have switched from the eastern Mediterranean to destinations perceived as “safe”, notably Spain.
Sales to Spain were unchanged, with “a very competitive trading environment” — due to the sheer number of aircraft seats from the UK to Spanish airports. Average selling prices for seat-only tickets are down 3 per cent, while holiday prices overall have risen by 7 per cent.
Top destinations included Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus as well as the US.
Mr Fankhauser said demand for Turkey and Egypt had “continued to increase” partly because of cheap prices. These destinations helped boost sales for winter breaks, which are up 3pc on last year.
Thomas Cook has also secured a strategic partnership with Swiss-based hotel property development company LMEY Investments to develop and expand its own-brand hotel portfolio.
The new partnership sees Thomas Cook acquire a 42% stake in German-based operator and hotel management firm Aldiana, which operates eight club resorts in Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Tunisia and Austria, and plans to open another four resorts over the next two years.
Europe’s second largest travel group reported that its summer programme was now 91% sold, up 2% on this time last year.
Overall bookings and pricing for summer 2018 are ahead of tis time last year, reflecting a good performance from the UK and Northern Europe in particular.
Mr Fankhauser added: “Thomas Cook has enjoyed a good summer. Customers from across our markets have shown a strong appetite for our holidays. Demand for Turkey and Egypt has also picked up.”
Around 1.7 million Brits holidayed in Turkey in 2016 compared to an average 2.5 million in 2015.