CRESTA expects to end the year 15%-20% down overall
after a downturn in the short-break market coupled with the impact of internal
issues related to troubled parent company MyTravel.
While the operator cited the effect of the Iraq war
and a fall-off in consumer confidence related to the UK economy, it admitted
the group’s financial crisis had also been to blame.
Earlier this year, the operator was put up for sale,
but no buyer could be found, and in
2002 its brochures were de-racked by rivals after a head-office spat between
MyTravel, TUI and Thomas Cook.
Neither served to instill confidence in travel agents
or consumers, said head of sales and marketing Jane Williams.
“There is no point pretending we have not had our own
issues,” she said.
She conceded MyTravel’s financial woes, and the fact
Cresta was referred to in many stories written about its parent company, also
had a knock-on effect. The bookings downturn has been particularly noticeable
because Cresta had one of its best ever autumns immediately after the September
11 attacks when there was a pick-up in demand for short breaks.
Commercial director David Gaster added: “This year
there has been a different customer approach. We feel our customers have felt
less certain in terms of the economy. The market has also struggled. The fact
the no-frills carriers were doing £1 seat sales during August is indicative of