Egypt trips still in low demand, says Europe's largest travel firm

Ahram Online and agencies, Thursday 22 Sep 2011

Ongoing political unrest is dissuading tourists from visiting North Africa, and recovery is likely to be slow, according to TUI Travel

Egypt tourism
Egyptian students, wearing Pharaonic clothes, march on Tahir Square calling on tourists to come back to Egypt (AP)

Europe's biggest tour operator has yet to see a revival in demand for holidays in Egypt, it announced on Thursday.

TUI Travel said political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa was still putting customers off vacationing in the region.
The group, which operates the Thomson and First Choice chains, cut the amount of holidays it sold to Egypt and Tunisia this summer and increased holidays on sale to alternative destinations such as Spain, Greece and Turkey.
"We are anticipating a slow recovery in trading to Egypt and Tunisia and have managed our capacity accordingly," chief executive Peter Long said in a statement.
TUI Travel, majority owned by Germany's TUI AG , said in May that troubles in Egypt and Tunisia had knocked 29 million pounds (US$45 million) off its first half profit but expected to fully mitigate the impact in the second half.
The group said it was confident its full year results would be in line with expectations following strong late demand for summer holidays. It said the summer season had traded well with bookings up across most of its markets while margins for late bookings had been in line with its expectations.
"We are pleased with our performance in the lates market for summer 2011 and most of our programmes are now almost fully sold. We remain confident that the full year results will be in line with our expectations," Long said.
The group added that trading for winter 2011/12 had been satisfactory overall.
TUI Travel's performance has held up despite challenging economic conditions helped by the broader diversity of its customer base which has a high proportion of couples, especially 'empty nesters' whose children have left home and who have disposable income.
In contrast, rival Thomas Cook has issued a string of profit warnings leading to the departure of veteran chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa. 
Market expectations for TUI Travel's full-year pretax profit range between 326 million and 367 million pounds, with the average forecast at 352 million, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 13 analysts.
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