Thomas Cook expects surge in Greece bookings if country exits eurozone
TOUR operator Thomas Cook expects a surge in bookings to Greece if it leaves the eurozone as holidays to the Mediterranean nation would become better value for hard-pressed travellers.
"If Greece exits (the euro), for the tourism industry it could be very profitable," interim chief executive Sam Weihagen said after the company posted a steep first-half loss on Thursday.
"Most probably holidays to Greece will be more profitable for holidaymakers than they are today and places like Spain could lose competitiveness," he told reporters.
The 171-year-old British travel group said summer bookings to Greece from Germany were down around 20pc year-on-year but that bookings from elsewhere to the crisis-hit nation had held up.
Tourism is a vital source of income for Greece, accounting for about a fifth of gross domestic product.
The outcome of an election next month will likely decide whether Greece remains in the euro.
Debt-laden Thomas Cook posted a pre-tax loss of £328.3m for the six months to the end of March, some 40pc wider than the loss it reported in the same period a year ago.
Its revenues rose 2.4pc to €3.51bn.
The tour operator has been hit hard by tough trading conditions, especially in Britain where its core customer base of families with young children has been particularly affected by the economic downturn. It has also been hit by unrest in popular destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
The world's oldest travel group continues to expect this year to be challenging given the economic backdrop and difficult trading environment, particularly in North America and France.
It said its full-year performance would be dependent on how well it performs in the late bookings market.
"Thomas Cook's results reflect higher seasonal losses from acquisitions and underperforming regions. The future of the group had been questioned in 2011, but we were confident of its survival, hence our 'buy'," said Investec analyst James Hollins.