Tui Travel profits up despite tough year

TUI at the International Tourism fair in Berlin in 2006
Image caption Tui said holidaymakers were looking at the Spanish islands as an alternative to North Africa

Tour operator Tui Travel has reported a sharp improvement in profitability despite a tough year for the travel industry as a whole.

Pre-tax profit for the year to the end of September was £144m compared with a loss of £73m the previous year.

Europe's biggest travel group, which operates the Thomson and First Choice chains, said it achieved record profits in the UK.

However, it added that bookings for this winter were lower than last year.

This was in large part due to a drop in bookings for holidays to North Africa, where recent unrest has affected demand, Tui's chief executive Peter Long told the BBC.

Instead, he said, customers were looking at holidaying in the Spanish islands, such as Majorca and Menorca.

The company said it was "very pleased" with its "robust performance" during the year.

Underlying profits were up 25% at £360m.

Last month, rival Thomas Cook saw its share price plummet after it said it was in talks with banks about increasing the amount of money it can borrow.

It said it had seen a drop off in bookings due to political unrest in Egypt and Tunisia and floods in Thailand.

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