Europe's largest tour operator has reported that fewer Germans had bought its holidays over the summer, denting tourism sales, but it added winter bookings looked promising. The firm said it would at least reach planned cost cuts of 160 million euros this year, although it did not have any plans to cut flight capacity. It said it expected satisfactory earnings from its tourism operations in 2002. Tourism sales over the summer season, which makes up two thirds of the travel business, fell 4.2 percent, pegged back by weaker German sales, which fell 8.4 percent to 4.3 billion euros over the 2001/02 year as a whole. The firm does not release absolute sales figures for the summer period. It said that bookings overall picked up strongly in the last weeks of the summer season and that weakness in Germany was not reflected elsewhere in Europe. In the British market, led by flagship brand Thomson Holidays, bookings were stable. “This shows that the shortfall in bookings in Germany because of the weakness of its economy is a German and not a European phenomenon,” TUI Chief Executive Michael Frenzel said in a statement. TUI has blamed the German recession and high prices for the 21 per cent drop in bookings to the Balearics this year, once Germany's top destination. Holiday sales have also been hit to Tunisia after the terrorist attack on the island of Djerba which killed a number of Germans while the big winner has been Bulgaria which this year has experienced a 50 per cent increase in German tourists.

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