Canada and European bookings boost TUI

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The holiday operator TUI Travel said strong performances at its Canadian and northern Europe operations helped it to shrug off a weak UK market and unrest in Egypt to post a small improvement in half-year operating losses.

The company, which owns the Thomson Holidays and First Choice brands, said it expected to meet the City's full-year forecasts, and that working Britons were still committed to a long summer holiday, despite the squeeze on their budgets. Peter Long, the chief executive, said: "Customers in employment, who are not concerned about becoming unemployed, will regard their holiday as a priority."

TUI made an operating loss of £307m, which was 5 per cent, or £15m, better than last year. Unrest in Egypt and Tunisia accounted for £29m of losses in the first half – a time tour operators typically make a loss. Indeed, TUI's performance compared favourably with its rival Thomas Cook, which on Monday said its first-half losses had widened by £35.6m to £166m. Mr Long said some British holidaymakers were shortening their traditional two-week summer break. He added: "Some of our families' budgets are under quite big pressure and 10 to 11 nights are proving popular."

TUI said that while cumulative UK bookings for this summer were flat, they were 10 per cent higher in the Nordic countries, 9 per cent in Germany and 14 per cent in the Netherlands. In Canada, TUI's strategic venture with Sunwing made a £19m operating profit, compared with a £5m loss in 2010.