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Wet January helps boost travel sales

The UK’s largest tour operator TUI Travel, as well as three of the biggest budget airlines reported that sales were up as millions of people plan to flee to the sunshine this summer. Owner of Thomson, Airtours and First Choice, traditionally names found on the high street, the travel group saw a 12% increase in UK online sales in January alone.

TUI now gets around half of its bookings online, with just 40% choosing to go to its travel agencies. TUI has also benefitted from mobile sales, with around two-thirds of online bookings completed on smartphones. Online sales are much easier and often cheaper for consumers; it also gives them chance to buy other extras, such as travel insurance and visas, at the same time.

Peter Long, TUI Travel boss said: “The weather has been utterly lousy and when you go home, and it's pouring with rain, you start looking at holiday destinations on your phone." The need for sunshine was clear as TUI’s most popular summer 2014 destinations included Majorca, Greece, Turkey, Cancun and Florida. Mr Long also revealed that the majority of bookings were all-inclusive.

“There is some trading up, plus a lot of people are now booking all inclusive deals — it’s growing every year and is now about 55% of all bookings.” The news will be welcomed by the operator as it has managed to but its winter operating losses by £8 million. TUI wasn’t the only travel business to reap the reward of desperate sun seekers. Irish carrier Aer Lingus, and its rivals Ryanair and easyJet all saw more passengers in January, with bookings looking optimistic for summer 2014.

Despite issuing two profit warnings last year, Ryanair has seen its January bookings surge by 5%. It also flew 4.6 million passengers, while easyJet flew 4 million – up 3.7% on last year. Aer Lingus enjoyed the same positive trend, but not to the same extent, with 572,000 passengers flying in January - 0.2% increase.

Date Created: 10 February 2014

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