potinsnews.com March 25, 2017

Thomas Cook Tourists Turn to Bulgaria, Croatia Amid Terror Spree

11 February 2017, 12:34 | Chelsea Hernandez

Almost a third of votes at Thomas Cook’s AGM were cast against the long-term incentive scheme for executives Getty Images AFP

Almost a third of votes at Thomas Cook’s AGM were cast against the long-term incentive scheme for executives Getty Images  AFP

Security issues continued to hamper demand for holidays in Turkey, while Britain's vote to leave the European Union, which has depressed the value of sterling, had also reduced clarity about the rest of the year.

The group said United Kingdom bookings for this year's key summer season were largely flat - up one per cent overall - as it comes under pressure from rivals in the Spanish island market.

It said it was seeing strong demand for holidays to Greece, with bookings up 40% as it has boosted its offering to the country as part on a switch away from Turkey and Egypt after political instability and terrorist attacks.

Shareholders with Peterborough-based Thomas Cook have secured a promise from bosses to consult over a new pay incentive scheme for its chief executive.

Revenue in the three months to the end of December was up 1% to £1.6bn but seasonal underlying operating losses were only improved by £1m to £49m.

Greece was now its "stand-out" destination, with 2.5 million holidaymakers booked for this summer.

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Overall bookings for next summer are up 9 percent on this time previous year, with prices stable and 31 percent of the program sold, an increase of 2 percentage points, Thomas Cook said. "In the smaller destinations like Croatia, like Bulgaria, like Cyprus, we are very well positioned and we see very good growth there".

While summer sales in northern and continental Europe are well ahead of a year ago, United Kingdom demand may be moderating, with bookings up 1 percent and package holiday reservations "slightly behind".

Thomas Cook shares fell by up to 10%.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: " Times are tough in the European travel industry and Thomas Cook isn't having the best of it, though the good news is things don't seem to be getting any worse".

The results came hours before Thomas Cook's annual general meeting at which Mr Fankhauser was expected to come under pressure over his pay package - a year after the last AGM saw a quarter of investors stage a revolt.

There was also a vote of about 20 per cent against the remuneration report as investors voiced concerns over the performance criteria for a strategic share incentive plan (SSIP) under which Peter Fankhauser, its chief executive, could be paid up to 225 per cent of his salary, now £690,000.

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