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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Tunisia back on TUI agenda as tourism demand grows

European travel firm says customer numbers and profitability were up

Cars drive past an illuminated logo of German travel and tourism major TUI. The firm says demand is growing strongly. Julian Stratenschulet  / AFP
Cars drive past an illuminated logo of German travel and tourism major TUI. The firm says demand is growing strongly. Julian Stratenschulet / AFP

The European tourism group TUI said holiday demand was resilient and growing strongly as it increased its sales target for the year and made a nine-month core profit for the first time.

Good demand for travel this year has also seen several European airlines report strong results for the early summer quarter.

The TUI chief executive Fritz Joussen said the group now expected sales to rise "significantly more" than 3 per cent, without specifying further.

Tourism companies have been dealing with a shift in demand from destinations in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, to countries such as Spain and Portugal over security fears and political tensions.

Rival Thomas Cook said last month it was planning to restart holidays to Tunisia after Britain altered its travel advice but that it would take time to set up.

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TUI said lower demand for Turkey this year was being offset by increased bookings for places such as Greece, Spain, Croatia and Italy.

Mr Joussen also said demand from British customers had stabilised, and it would be looking at adding Tunisia back to its programme.

TUI is working on its German airline TUIFly after Etihad pulled out of talks to create a joint venture holiday airline using the Niki unit of struggling airline Air Berlin.

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"On TUIFly we are on our own and that's ok," Mr Joussen said, adding that customer numbers and profitability were up and its planes were being used at higher rates than previously.

Overall, the group on Thursday reported third-quarter underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation of €221.6 million (Dh955.2m), giving a total of €7.3m for the first nine months of the year.

It confirmed a target for core earnings to rise by at least 10 per cent this year, compared with last year's €1.03 billion.