RHODES wildfires this summer will cost travel agent TUI around £21million — but haven’t deterred holidaymakers.
It was forced to stump up for cancellation costs and lost business, customer compensation and repatriation flights.
But despite July’s wildfire setback, the German-based airline and package holiday firm said tourism is still booming, helped by the summer season extending into November.
The bookings have been credited to the heatwave — which has encouraged many holidaymakers to book outside the summer for locations like Greece.
TUI also said travellers are looking beyond traditional resorts, with the Belgian and Polish coasts set to become more popular.
Favourite destinations this summer remained Turkey, the Caribbean, the Balearic Islands, the Canaries, Cape Verde and Greece, with bookings up 6 per cent year-on-year and getting close to 95 per cent of pre-Covid levels from 2019.
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TUI made a profit of £145million for the three months from April to June for the first time since the start of the pandemic, it said.
And revenues surged by a fifth, to £4.6billion.
“It will be a very good travel summer and a good year for TUI,” said boss Sebastian Ebel.
He said the firm had evacuated 8,000 guests from Rhodes after the wildfires broke out in July.
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He added that only around 5 per cent of its flights going to the Greek island this summer were affected — and four-fifths of guests were also unaffected.
“The Mediterranean remains the most sought-after destination for the summer holidays,” he said.
But he added heatwaves and climate change could affect where people choose to go on holiday and will have a “significant impact” on TUI’s holiday offers.
Mr Ebel said it means cooler climates could become sought-after spots.
Gambler firm U.S. Bet wins
STATESIDE expansion plans are going well for UK gambling firm Flutter, owner of Paddy Power and Betfair.
The company has added two million new punters in America, helping US half-year profits to climb to £49million, reversing last year’s loss of £132million over the same period.
“The US delivered another exceptional performance,” said CEO Peter Jackson.
Flutter bought a majority shareholding — 58 per cent — in US betting business FanDuel in 2018 for £124million, as it began its push into America.
The move proved successful, with the firm then paying £3.3billion in 2021 to up its shareholding to 95 per cent.
The push into North America will see Flutter seek a New York listing, alongside its existing UK listing.
In the UK and Ireland, the company said profits climbed 24 per cent to £396million.
But its UK business is set to be hit by gambling reforms.
Turmoil for E-GP
ONLINE healthcare company Babylon Health has warned its UK arm may have to be put into administration if it cannot find a buyer.
The US-listed business runs GP at Hand, a digital service that cares for 100,000 patients and is funded by the NHS.
Babylon said the UK part of the firm is still sustainable.
It added the group is “exploring strategic alternatives to find the best possible outcome for its UK business”.
Rents 'will' climb
ESTATE agents have warned that rents are likely to continue rising sharply, despite the cost of living crisis.
Some two-thirds reckon rents will climb over the next three months, according to the latest monthly property survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
It showed that tenant demand rose over the three months to July while instructions from landlords declined.
RICS chief Simon Rubinsohn cited “economic uncertainty, rising interest rates and a tougher credit environment”.
Our house of pain
BRITS spend more on housing than Americans — but live in smaller homes because of the UK’s “dysfunctional” market, research indicates.
The Social Market Foundation reckons 21 per cent of Brits’ spending goes on housing compared with 17 per cent for Americans.
Yet US homes are 60 per cent larger per person than UK ones.
The think-tank said: “The gap in housing’s a more direct reflection of dysfunction in the UK housing market.”
France, Germany and Japan also have smaller houses.
DRINK-packaging company Coca-Cola HBC is benefiting from consumers reluctant to give up their favourite pop.
Sales over the last six months climbed 18 per cent to £4.3billion, while profits more than doubled to £480million.
Analyst Neil Shah at Edison Group said: “While consumers feel the bite of the cost of living crisis, it’s clear there are foods and drinks individuals are more reluctant to give up than others.”
The Switzerland-based bottler is 20 per cent owned by drinks giant Coca-Cola.
ENERGY giant E.ON said its UK sales hit £18.1billion in the last six months, a £6.9billion leap from the same period in 2022.
That helped the German firm’s UK profits more than double to reach £723million.
Builder bricks it
HOUSEBUILDER Bellway said reservation rates fell 28 per cent in the year to the end of July.
Analysts now forecast a 45 per cent drop in earnings over the next 12 months.
Its forward order book has slumped from £2.1billion to £1.2billion as many potential homeowners have been put off by rising mortgage rates.
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The company built 10,945 properties in the last six months, making revenues of £3.4billion — from £3.52billion in the same period last year.
Boss Jason Honeyman said the market is “likely to remain challenging in the near term”.
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