Tour operator Thomas Cook has reported a surge of interest in its summer 2010 offering, with progress in all major markets.
A key bellwether in the UK tourism sector, the group has seen bookings from within the UK increase by 30 per cent over the last four weeks, when compared to the same period of 2009.
As a result, the group’s summer programme is now 54 per cent sold, with five per cent less left to sell for the season than at the same time last year; while there is 17 per cent less left to sell for May and ten per cent less for June.
Sales have been bolstered by a returning economic confidence among consumers and a high profile involving footballer Jamie Redknapp.
Average selling prices also remain two per cent ahead of last year and reflect the shift in mix away from higher priced long haul to lower priced but higher margin medium haul.
“We would expect prices to trend upwards against last year as less late activity is anticipated,” the group said in a statement.
Bookings from Northern Europe have increased by 11 per cent of the last four weeks when compared to 2009, with Continental Europe also seeing a four per cent spike.
“Bookings are getting stronger all the time and have been especially strong in the UK where some days we’ve been up as much as 85 per cent, for example Sunday of last week,” chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa told reporters ahead of the group’s AGM this afternoon.
The news echoes positive sentiments from Europe’s biggest travel firm, TUI, which yesterday said demand for holidays has picked up significantly.
The German-based group said bookings in the UK were three per cent higher at March 14th than at the same stage a year earlier, while trading in Germany had improved in the six weeks to March 14th, with bookings four per cent lower year-on-year at the end of the period, against an eight percent deficit at the end of January.
“We are encouraged by recent strong trading trends and are confident as we move towards the summer season that we will continue to see strong demand and a recovery in earlier booking patterns,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said Average selling prices in the UK were up nine per cent year-on-year, it said.
Thomas Cook announced earlier this month it had agreed to acquire Think W3, the owner of Essential Travel.
Essential Travel is one of the UK’s leading online providers of travel-related products, including travel insurance, airport parking and airport hotels.
In the financial year ended March 31st 2009, Essential Travel had gross assets of £2.5 million.
The acquisition will provide Thomas Cook with a platform on which to build its financial services business and accelerate the growth of travel-related services online.