Tui boss cheers return of package holidays


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The Independent Online

Package holidays are back and stay-cations are out. So says travel industry veteran Peter Long as he unveiled another strong set of results at TUI Travel, the FTSE 100 business behind Thomson and First Choice.

Long has always argued that families now so value their annual foreign holiday that they will keep taking it however tight the squeeze on finances.

Today he offered further evidence, an 8 per cent rise in profits to £390 million for the year to September.

“I have always had a view that if our customers are in employment, the overseas holidays is a must they will forgo other things for,” he said.

“And we’ve had a renaissance of the package holiday, it is coming back. It is great value and they give peace of mind. We look after our customers.”

One fad that may be dying was the trend to take holidays in the UK to save cash - last summer’s dreadful weather may have killed off that fashion, with forward bookings at TUI looking strong.

“Customers who didn’t travel this summer are not going to take the risk on the weather again,” he said.

Revenues slipped slightly to £14.46 billion, but the strength of the balance sheet allows a 4% rise in the dividend to 11.7p.

Long, in the game for 28 years, skirted around the troubles at arch rival Thomas Cook, saying only: “The strong will get stronger. The market environment is not going to help you.”

Long says the last five years at TUI have partly been about knocking the merged business into shape and achieving cost savings. The next five will be about growth, he insists.

The French business continues to under perform, he notes. The French can always just head south in the car if they need some sun, notes Long.

Online sales rose 3 per cent to account for 33 per cent of mainstream sales, it said.