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Sunday, April 30, 2017
Foreign holidays remain a top priority for Europeans despite economic and security worries, tour operator Thomas Cook said, reporting a 40% jump in bookings to Greece and signs of a recovery in travel to Turkey and Egypt.“Customers’ appetite to go abroad on holiday this summer is good across all our markets,” CEO Peter Fankhauser said. “After a slow start to the season and a tough year in 2016, we are seeing early signs that customers are beginning to go back to Turkey and Egypt,” he added.Egypt’s tourism industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has suffered in the years of turmoil that followed the mass protests, as well as from the suspected bombing of a Russian plane in Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people on board.German market researcher GfK said in a report last month that German holidaymakers’ bookings for trips to Egypt in the upcoming summer season were up 91% from last year, but still 23% below pre-uprising levels.Thomas Cook, which unnerved investors in February with a cautious outlook, said that while it was seeing some pressure on profit margins due to more competition, strong demand for summer holidays meant it was on track to profit forecasts.Analysts expect the group, which arranges holidays for around 20 million people a year, to report full-year operating profit of around £327 million (US$412 million). It said summer bookings for the group were up 10% compared to a weak period last year.Tourists turned their backs on previously popular resorts in Turkey and elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean last summer because of concerns about security, leaving Thomas Cook scrambling to find more hotel rooms in Spain and Portugal.It said it had expanded its capacity in Greece this season, while smaller destinations such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Croatia were also becoming popular. The Spanish market was more competitive however, it said, and it was focusing on selling higher-margin holidays rather than chasing volume growth.
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