Asia watching developments from biggest closure of UK travel shops


(eTN) – The Asian travel market will be “watching and waiting” for the outcome of the announcement from UK’s “doyen” of travel industry, Thomson Holidays, which last week announced closure of 100 travel shops despite announcing expansion plans into China and India.

Losing the British “slice” of inbound travel market now adds to the market’s uncertainties as each day news filters to the market the Western economy is teetering on the verge of a breakdown.

TUI Travel, the biggest tour operator in Europe, as a result of the merger between Thomson Travels and First Choice, said it will buy smaller rivals as part of its expansion plans. “We will carry out a 100-day review of the business to see where further cost savings, and investments can be made.”

Announcing the decision as part of its reorganization and cost savings measure, Peter Long, CEO of TUI, refused to quantify how many staff will be laid off. UK trade union leaders fear it could result in about 1,000 job losses. “It’s not a small number and clearly it’s a sensitive issue. Job losses will be limited.”

In a message of hope to its UK staff, Long said there is no sign of a slowdown in its high street shop bookings which would affect holiday bookings. “Sales at TUI Travel for the 2008 summer season are up 8 percent.

“Holidaymakers are refusing to cut back on annual getaways despite signs of a global economic implosion.”

TUI travel employs a total of about 68,000 staff in Europe, with a total of about 18,000 in the UK.