The sun shines on Thomas Cook as holiday bookings surge

Holidaymakers turned to Thomas Cook this summer as downpours helped drive bookings despite the tragedy in Tunisia, the company said. The tour operator said 91% of all its summer holidays were now booked, a figure which rises to 95% in the UK. Demand for holidays from northern Europe accelerated substantially in the second half of the year, spurred on by recent poor weather in Scandinavia. Holidays here are now 99% booked, with average selling prices 4% higher than last year.

But Thomas Cook s overall guidance for the full-year is unchanged from an end-of-July update, when it warned of a profits shortfall of 25 million due to the weaker euro, the early summer Greek crisis and a terrorist attack which killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia. With Tunisia closed to tourists, the firm has seen a significant increase in travellers to Greece and Egypt. Peter Fankhauser, chief executive, said: Our trading performance for the summer season has progressed well, despite the impact of external shocks in certain destination markets, as previously announced. With more than a third of the winter 2015/16 season sold, the bookings profile for next year is also encouraging.

The urge to get away has spilled over into strong forward bookings with 39% of winter holidays already sold. Bookings are ahead of last year in all major markets, it said, with prices also pushing higher. But the company is being hit by the weaker euro and Swedish krona as it does not hedge the conversion impact of profits made outside the UK.

The impact of these will cost 39 million. Thomas Cook s update comes a day after Tui Group, Europe s largest travel company, said trading remained robust. Earlier this year Thomas Cook triggered outrage when its executives refused to apologise for its actions at the inquest of two British children, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while on a Discount Holidays © holiday with the company in 2006.

After severe criticism and the threat of a boycott, the tour operator did apologise and paid a substantial sum to charities nominated by the children s family.

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