Holidays to Greece from the UK could restart in April, Tui boss Fritz Joussen has said.
Joussen said on Tuesday (9 February) "the usual suspects", destinations such as Greece and Spain, had performed well over the winter in terms of bookings.
It came as Tui reported its first quarter (three months to 31 December) results on Tuesday, posting an adjusted loss before tax of nearly €700 million on revenue down 88% from €3.85 billion to €468.1 million.
During a subsequent press briefing, Joussen dismissed the UK’s increasingly tough travel requirements and restrictions as another part of the low-travel season "fog", advising people look further ahead to mid- to late-March instead and draw their conclusions then.
"We have to be patient," said Joussen, stressing his belief that the UK’s ambitious vaccination programme would soon pay dividends – potentially as early as April when he said he felt Greece might be ready to accept UK holidaymakers.
Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last week signalled the country’s tourism industry would likely reopen in accordance with "the pace of vaccination in its main markets".
On Monday (8 February), Greece and Israel – another country that has got off to a strong start with its Covid vaccination programme – agreed a trial Covid vaccine passport programme, which could allow tourism between the two countries to resume.
Joussen said he was looking to "the beginning of April" for Greece, adding all Tui destinations were "hungry" to receive guests. "As soon as we open something, [the] travel demand will be there," he said.
More than 50% of Tui’s 2.8 million summer 2021 bookings are from the UK, with prices up 20% on those holidays sold for summer 2019.
Joussen insisted the company hadn’t put up prices, and that the increase was instead due to the mix of holidays sold – "more five-star and package" – and people "trading up" and booking higher categories.
"This is in line with expectation, pent-up demand and higher saving ratios," said Joussen.
In terms of destinations, besides Greece and Spain, Morocco was "not so bad", and that there was interest in the Caribbean too.
Turkey, by contrast, was down slightly on where the business would expect it to be, said Joussen.