OPERATORS
are concentrating on short-term business as the market continues to trade 25%
down while fears rise a post-war bookings boom may not materialise.

The
big four are focused on sales up to June as holidaymakers put off summer
bookings. Going Places has pledged to undercut lates holidays with any operator
by £20 for holidays up to April 30. Its adverts include First Choice, JMC,
Thomson, Virgin and Cosmos brands.

MyTravel
distribution and charter tour operations managing director Steve Endacott
claimed it was the first time in years a vertically integrated retailer had
advertised other operators and said the move was already succeeding.

“If
the customer has not chosen a holiday, we would suggest Airtours first but if
they have, we will offer it for £20 less. It’s to make customers realise Going
Places is a lates specialist that sells all the major operators.”

TUI
commercial director Derek Jones said: “Everyone is playing the same game,
focusing on getting winter away.”

Thomas
Cook is concentrating on the short term with aggressive May prices. Director of
trade relations Ian Derbyshire said: “We’re concentrating on the next four
months and looking at pricing to shift sales.”

Meanwhile, some operators have admitted bookings are
unlikely to return to levels enjoyed in the past, even after a Gulf conflict,
and say peak availability could be tight as a result of large capacity cuts.