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Almost half of TUI's UK holidaymakers now book online

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Almost half of the winter holidays TUI Travel sold in the UK were booked online this year, the company said today.

Some 47% of breaks were booked using the internet in winter 2011-12, the company said. TUI operates the First Choice and Thomson websites in the UK.

The update came as TUI released first-half figures showing a 5% rise in sales to £5.4bn in the first half of the year, to March 31, compared to the same time last year, and pre-tax losses at £457m.

In the UK market, it said there was a £48m improvement in its first-half underlying operating loss.

Exclusive and differentiated holidays drove growth in sales, it said.

Looking ahead, the company said trading for summer 2012 was in line with expectations. The UK market continued to outperform, it said. Controlled distribution of summer sales currently stood at 90%, six percentage points up on the same time last year. Half of bookings made to date were made online, it said.

Peter Long, chief executive of TUI Travel, said: "We are pleased with our overall performance for the first half. The UK delivered a strong Winter performance which attests to our focus on differentiated and exclusive product and being online driven - key elements of our modern mainstream strategy.

“Our outperformance in this market is continuing into the Summer season and we will ensure that we continue to optimise our position. In our online accommodation-only businesses we continue to deliver healthy growth driven by new markets as well as increasing market share in more recently established markets.

"Given the challenging economic environment, we remain cautious, however, overall trading performance continues to be in line with the board's expectations."

The update came on the same day that UK competitor Thomas Cook said it had secured longer-term financing, with a £1.4bn package now coming due in May 2015. Sam Weihagen, group chief executive of Thomas Cook Group, said: "Today's announcement highlights the confidence our lenders have in Thomas Cook and we are delighted that they have demonstrated their on-going support."

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