Brits delaying decisions on their holidays amid terrorism fears, warns Thomas Cook

A Thomas Cook travel shop.
Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A Thomas Cook travel shop. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

British tourists are holding off from booking summer holidays amid fears of further terrorist attacks overseas, travel group Thomas Cook said yesterday.

In a pre-close statement ahead of its first half results – released at virtually the same time as the first of yesterday’s explosions in Brussels – the FTSE 250 company said business continued to be affected by the “volatile geopolitical backdrop”.

Thomas Cook said its summer programme was currently 40% sold, down 2% compared with the same stage a year ago, with rising demand for breaks in the western Mediterranean, the United States and Cuba helping to offset “significantly lower” bookings for Turkey.

The company added that winter bookings were 3% down compared with last year, with its programme still only 90% sold.

Travel companies have seen their bookings decline after a number of terrorist attacks hit popular holiday destinations, including Turkey, Paris, Tunisia and Egypt.

And their shares, together with those in airlines and other transport operators, came under further pressure yesterday following news of the latest attacks in Brussels.

Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: “Thomas Cook continues to operate in a volatile market environment.

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“We know that customers want a summer holiday but we can see that some are leaving it later to book this year as they consider their options.”

Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said the outlook for Thomas Cook was “guardedly optimistic”, but added that “time was gradually ticking away” as consumer confidence continued to be hit by disruption in key destinations.