The boss of Thomson and First Choice owner TUI said the beach massacre in Tunisia that claimed the lives of 33 of its customers was the “most tragic” event in his 30-year career as the group laid bare the financial impact of recent terrorist attacks.
The travel giant took a £37.6m hit from the Tunisia attack in June and cut its guidance for the year ahead after cancelling all flights to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt following the terrorist bombing of a Russian airliner last month.
Peter Long, joint chief executive of TUI Group, said the past year saw the group experience “the most tragic event that I’ve ever had to deal with in my 30 years in the indus- try”.
He added: “The horror of it is something that will live with us, and me, forever.”
But he praised the staff’s handling of the tragedy, which saw the group fly home tourists from the North African country and cancel all holidays there, with the UK Foreign Office and other governments still advising against visits.
The group said its hotels and resort arm saw an £18.8m impact from the Tunisia beach attack, with another £12m put by to cover prepayments for accommodation in the area.
Mr Long said resorts in Tunisia and Sharm el-Sheikh were like “ghost towns” following the attacks, adding it remains to be seen if it will ever fully recover.
Holidaymakers have been switching to destinations such as the Canary Islands as well as long-haul resorts, with demand increasing for holidays to Mexico, Mauritius and the Caribbean.
TUI said long-haul bookings are up 16 per cent for the winter season.
UK bookings are four per cent higher for the winter season.