OPERATORS are waiting nervously for a peak season
bookings surge after admitting January’s first weekend failed to meet

Despite a slight pick-up last week, many companies
blamed consumers taking extra time off over Christmas coupled with economic and
worldwide instability for poor sales. This has led to bleak forecasts across
the retail industry.

From December 27 to January 7, figures show Airtours
was 14% down, Thomson 32% down, First Choice 5% down and Thomas Cook 15% down.

Widespread snow only added to agencies’ woes in a
market 19% down for summer 2003.

Travelcare general manager Amanda Williams said: “Our
belief is we are already seeing the impact on sales of the potential threat of
war in Iraq.”

Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, the UK, US, and cruise market
struggled, while the traditional safe havens of Spain and Portugal have
performed best, she said.


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