Kuoni has launched its Longhaul Report 2009, amid “difficult” trading conditions that have prompted it to launch the biggest sale in its 100-year history.
UK managing director Nick Hughes said: “The year looked excellent, especially for destinations such as America and the Caribbean. But outside factors such as the credit crunch, devaluation of the pound, APD and a general loss of consumer confidence impacted upon the whole industry in the second half.”
“According to a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, there has been a 20% decline in forward bookings for 2009 for long-haul travel,” he said.
“What is clear is that people are now booking much later then ever before,” he added.
Kuoni has launched the sale as a response, offering discounts for bookings made before February 20, with up to 30% off many holidays. It has also extended its Kuoni Worldwide 2009 brochure until March 2010 in a bid to generate early bookings for next year.
The report placed Maldives at the top of the long-haul destination hotlist for the third year running. Thailand came second on value grounds, despite the riots which forced the closure of Bangkok airport over the Christmas period.
In third place, up from fourth, was the US which switched places with Eygpt. America’s rise was due to the popularity of weekend breaks, particularly to New York and Las Vegas. Egypt came fourth mainly due to the fact it is a mid-haul destination.
The rest of top 10 was made up of Dubai, Singapore, China and Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia.
Hughes also said Kuoni, which was voted “World’s Leading Tour Operator at the 2008 World Travel Awards, is eyeing up further retail stores in the UK, following the opening of two flagship stores last year - High Street Kensington, London, in April and in King Street, Manchester, in September.
He said the operator wanted to have around 10 stores in total in the UK and was planning to open some in the next two years.
“We’re keeping any eye on the market,” he said. “There is nothing in the pipeline at the moment but we are actively looking.”