TUI Travel has reported UK bookings for this summer to be down 17% cumulatively year on year while prices remain 10% ahead.

But an improvement in recent figures shows UK sales in the last eight weeks for the group, which includes Thomson and First Choice, are 11% down as the trend towards later bookings continues.

In a trading update of sales up to May 3, average prices for UK charter sales are 10% up year on year, with sales 9% down. Customer volumes are 17% down, in line with a capacity reduction of 17%, and the load factor for the programme is now 58%, flat compared with last year.

There are 16% less holidays left to sell for the UK charter programme this summer compared with last year.

Despite the impact of swine flu, the group says UK demand has increased for long-haul holidays, with bookings up 2% in the last two weeks, compared with cumulative bookings, which are 25% down.

However, demand has switched from Mexico to other medium and long-haul destinations, particularly Jamaica, which is 30% up in the last two weeks; Egypt, which is 23% up; and the Dominican Republic, which is 19% up.

The group said only 10% of holidaymakers in Mexico at the time of the swine flu outbreak took up the company’s offer of early repatriation.

The trend towards non-euro destinations is continuing, particularly for Egypt and Turkey. Sales for non-euro destinations are up three percentage points to 32% of the product mix sold, while all-inclusive holidays remain popular, up four percentage points to 33% of the mix, as does demand for exclusive holidays, up six percentage points to 34% of the mix.

The group said the winter 2008/09 season ended in line with expectations and achieved targeted load factors but reported a “slight weakness” in March sales as result of Easter falling in April this year.

Strong pricing was maintained thanks to reduced capacity and less stock left to sell in the lates market.