‘Pent-up demand’ sees UK summer holiday bookings ‘19% up on pre-pandemic levels’, TUI reports

Holiday operator TUI has reported that UK bookings for summer holidays are up 19% on pre-pandemic levels, despite household finances facing a squeeze from surging inflation.

The Germany-based company said the UK market was outperforming its wider business in terms of sales ahead of the core season for international travel.

TUI, which runs hotels, airlines, cruises and travel agencies, said high “pent-up” demand had helped it decide to return a portion of the €4bn+ state aid it had received from Berlin to navigate the collapse in travel during the heights of the COVID crisis.

It reported that a total of 3.5 million customers had booked a trip for summer 2022 as of 30 January, with new bookings helping group sales recover to 100% of 2019 levels.

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The gradual lifting of restrictions on international travel has seen holiday firms and airlines enjoy a surge in bookings.


TUI credited the removal of testing requirements for the fully-vaccinated in the UK for giving people the confidence to fly abroad.

It said that customers were booking “higher quality” breaks as a result of the disruption of the past two years.

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The company revealed its progress while outlining financial results for the first quarter of its financial year to 31 December.

TUI said group revenue of €2.4bn was €1.9bn higher on the same period in 2020.

It handled 2.3 million customers – an increase of 1.7 million.

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That helped group losses halve to €386.5m on a bottom line basis.

Chief executive Fritz Joussen told investors: “We expect a strong summer 2022. There is pent-up demand among customers.”

Shares rose by more than 3% on the news.

But Julie Palmer, partner at consultancy Begbies Traynor, warned further progress was likely to be limited.

She said of the company’s update: “Released from COVID controls, people are desperate to get away so it’s no surprise TUI is enjoying skyrocketing demand.

“UK bookings for summer holidays are currently a fifth higher than pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

“It could just be a temporary respite, though. Soaring inflation across travel companies’ costs such as fuel and wages, whilst trying to recoup losses racked up over two hellish years, combined with consumers being forced to rein in spending, could mean this sunny period soon ends.”