Russia’s largest tour operator will enter the UK market next year with a subsidiary headed by former Olympic Holidays chief executive Clare Tobin.
Biblio Travel will act as the UK subsidiary of Moscow’s Biblio Globus with £41 million of backing from the parent company.
The initial focus will be on Cyprus, where the UK tour operations staff will be based and where Biblio Globus is already the largest DMC.
Biblio plans charter flights to the island from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham, with some additional scheduled capacity from Heathrow.
Tobin, who spent three years at Olympic, said the island was “a perfect first destination for us to enter the UK market”.
“Capacity to Cyprus from the UK market has seen dramatic cuts in the last two seasons with the demise of Thomas Cook and reduction in capacity from other tour operators.”
She said Biblio’s parent company buying power meant the UK operation “would be highly competitive”. Biblio Globus is the largest inbound operator in Cyprus, with 475,000 passengers – a quarter of the total market.
Biblio will launch a consumer website, but said it expected “more than 90%” of sales to come from agents. It is signing deals with partners and also placing packages on Traveltek and other trade platforms. It said commission levels would be “attractive”.
Tobin has recruited Ruth Hilton as deputy managing director and Tina Hodge as sales director. Hilton has more than 25 years’ experience in the industry including time at Airtours and Gold Medal and The Travel Corporation. Hodge joins following senior account manager roles at Emirates Holidays, Gold Medal and Thomas Cook.
Biblio Globus claims to be Russia’s largest operator, with three million passengers. The former Thomas Cook brand acquired a 30% stake in it in March 2019 in a bid to move into the Russian market.