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Holiday bookings up amid 'package' comeback

Friday, January 03, 2014 - 02:12

Jan. 3 - With signs of a return of consumer confidence, travel agents are bracing for a rush of bookings as customers bag their place in the sun. And, it seems, that traditional favourite, the package holiday, may be making a comeback. Ciara Sutton reports.

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It may look quiet but this travel agents in Essex is expecting a rush. Far from feeling the financial pinch after the festive season it seems customers are throwing caution to the wind and splashing out on a holiday. Some reports suggest bookings generally are up around 16% - and 2014's must have is the package holiday. Peter Holmes runs Classic Travel of Loughton. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRAVEL AGENT, PETER HOLMES, SAYING: "The economy is starting to improve. I think this will probably give people the confidence to book up earlier. People will be looking again to long haul destinations and looking for high quality hotels, accommodation. But good value." The revival of the package holiday helped TUI Travel and TUI AG's profits in December. Analysts had been predicting losses of around 27 million euros - instead an unexpected rise in British and German customers reversed expectations. TUI Travel's underlying operating profit was up 13%. It operates Thomson and First Choice and says the focus is on luxury, with "value added services" (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRAVEL AGENT, PETER HOLMES, SAYING: ''The trend is definitely towards long haul. People are definitely becoming more adventurous in their aspirations and are much more interested in travelling to places perhaps they'd only dreamt or read about in the past. If we go back to when package holidays first started in the 60s, the Costa del Sol was an adventure. It isn't anymore, so people want to explore the world, they want to see other continents." The rising cost of flying is also pushing people towards packages. And the Germans - who are well known holiday lovers - have already given TUI AG a pre-Christmas surge. The company says it now wants to focus on offering good value to customers. They need that in France - one of the few key places where the prospect of recession is keeping travel low. TUI AG won't be writing home about its results there - not even on a postcard.

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Holiday bookings up amid 'package' comeback

Friday, January 03, 2014 - 02:12

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