BERLIN Aug 14 German travel and tourism group
TUI AG, majority owner of Europe's largest tour
operator TUI Travel, said a crisis in Russia had the
potential to harm what has been a fast-growing source of
customers for the tourism industry.
Travellers from Russia and China have been the fastest
growing source markets in the tourism industry over the last few
years and are expected to help drive an expected 4-4.5 percent
rise in global tourist arrivals in 2014, according to the United
Nation's World Tourism Organization.
But the Russian economy has been slowing since last year and
now consumers are also struggling with the impact of tensions
between their country and the European Union and the United
States since Russia annexed most of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula
in March. The EU and United States have imposed sanctions to
which Moscow has retaliated with a ban on most Western food
Asked about the impact of the crisis, TUI AG Chief Executive
Frierich Joussen said there were some effects but that as the
group and TUI Travel predominantly served customers from western
Europe the crisis was not having a "material" impact on the
However, when asked whether sanctions would cause Russians
to spend less on holiday he added: "We wish it were otherwise
because Russia is a market that has the potential to grow."
Russian travellers helped to partly shield TUI AG's
Iberotels hotels business from a sharp fall in bookings in
Egypt, he said, because they continued to travel there despite
recent unrest that deterred tourists from elsewhere in Europe.
Iberotel saw underlying profits fall 8 million euros ($10.7
million) in the first nine months of the year, but still made a
profit of 4 million euros, Joussen said.
Joussen added that business in Ukraine had all but dried up
as a result of the crisis.
(1 US dollar = 0.7472 euro)
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen; Editing by