Positive early signs as 2012 goes on sale

Early bookings for summer 2012 have begun strongly, with almost 20,000 more package holidays sold than a year ago in the first weeks the season has been on sale.

However, bookings for Egypt and Tunisia next summer have been sharply down on last year in the first weeks, suggesting there may be some way to go before the market to the Middle East and North Africa fully recovers following the overthrow of the governments in Tunis and Cairo.

The figures from industry analyst GfK Ascent reflect bookings up to May 21. They show early sales to Turkey for next summer also down year on year. The major tour operators – Tui Travel-owned Thomson and First Choice and Thomas Cook – launched Summer 2012 brochures in early May.

GfK Ascent reports 20,000 additional package holidays sold in the opening days on sale this year, although it notes the Summer 2011 season began slowly amid a raft of interruptions – including the 2010 General Election.

Some trends appear already to have emerged, however. The figures for the first two weeks show a decline of 3,000 bookings to Egypt year on year and a fall of 1,700 in sales to Tunisia. By contrast, bookings to the US for next summer were 16% up in the first days of Summer 2012 sales.

GfK Ascent also reports an increase in the average selling price for next summer’s holidays of £51 on a year ago. For more on the latest booking figures see this week’s Travel Weekly and Wednesday’s edition of your Breakfast Briefing.

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