European travel and tourism group TUI AG and its TUI Travel unit - Europe's largest tour operator - reported a first half operating loss of £317 million but with a £13 million improvement in the second quarter.
The travel giant said it turned in a strong performance in the UK and a £48m improvement in first half underlying operating loss. The result was driven by increased sales of TUI content with 47 percent of winter holidays booked online.
Peter Long, chief executive of TUI Travel PLC, commented: “We are pleased with our overall performance for the first half. The UK delivered a strong winter performance which attests to our focus on differentiated and exclusive product and being online driven – key elements of our modern mainstream strategy."
"Our outperformance in this market is continuing into the summer season and we will ensure that we continue to optimise our position," Long said. “In our online accommodation only businesses we continue to deliver healthy growth driven by new markets as well as increasing market share in more recently established markets."
”Given the challenging economic environment, we remain cautious, however, overall trading performance continues to be in line with the Board’s expectations," Long said.
Demand for holidays in North Africa was recovering, TUI said. TUI and competitor Thomas Cook were hit hard last year as European tourists stayed away from North African destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt following political unrest.
Reuters reports that while tourists are now returning, the numbers are not expected to recover to pre-uprising levels until next year or even longer for Egypt.
Reuters also reports that tour operators are also battling a drop of around 30 percent in bookings to Greece from Germany. Reuters also estimated that shares in TUI, lost 37 percent of their value over the last 12 months as austerity-hit customers cut back on holiday travel.