The owner of Thomson holidays and Britannia Airways yesterday said the appetite of UK tourists for newlyintroduced destinations such as Croatia and Egypt contributed to a "successful" first half of the year.
German firm Tui also benefited from an expansion in the number of long-haul tour and cruise packages on offer, helping it report a 10.5 per cent increase in UK customers to 2.44 million.
The UK performance helped its Northern Europe division record a 5.5 per cent rise in customers to 3.13 million, and was the main driver behind a 2.7 per cent jump in turnover to 2.12 billion euros (£1.46 billion) in the region.
Commenting on its UK arm, Tui said: "The demand for 2005 summer brochures rose due to new destinations such as Croatia and Egypt, but also an expansion of long-haul and cruise offerings."
The fastest growth in the UK came from web-based sales.
The UK business helped counteract a fall in Ireland and the Nordic countries.
In flights, Britannia Airways - due to be rebranded Thomsonfly - operated an average of 34 aircraft during the second quarter, and its seat-load factor increased to 89 per cent from 88 per cent.
Thomsonfly - the main operator out of Coventry airport - is the company's lowcost airline. Its nine aircraft had a seat-load factor of 70 per cent, although start-up costs meant underlying losses for northern Europe widened to 73 million euros (£50 million) from a deficit of 66 million euros (£45 million) last time.
Overall, group turnover increased to 7.57 billion euros (£5.21 billion) from 7.08 billion euros (£4.87 billion) last time, while underlying losses narrowed to 129.1 million euros (£88.9 million) from 201.5 million euros (£138.7 million).
Tui employs about 58,000 people and in 2004 had about 18 million customers. It operates about 3,200 travel agencies, more than 100 aircraft, as well as 290 hotels with 163,000 beds in 28 countries. It is the largest holiday hotelier in Europe and number 13 in the world-wide ranking of major hotel chains.
The group recently said it hopes to nearly double its operating performance in its core tourism business over the next few years.