Eurostar sales boosted by visitors from outside EU

Eurostar has said that its sales increased last year as passenger numbers rose 2% to 9.7 million.

The operator of the train service between London and continental Europe said that sales jumped 6% to £803m in 2011, from a year earlier.

Non-European Union-based international travellers, from fast-growing countries such as Brazil and China, now account for 9% of all passengers.

That was despite a 3% fall in the number of business travellers .

It said the eurozone debt crisis had hit business travel particularly hard during the last three months of the year.

Eurostar had one of its busiest weekends on record during the weekend following the marriage of Prince William last year, and expects another strong year because of the Queen's Jubilee and the London Olympic Games.

Eurostar said it made an unaudited net profit of £20.8m in 2011.

The company said that its new e320 train carriages - due to be introduced in 2014 - will have wi-fi and advanced entertainment systems on board.

At the moment Eurostar is the only company that runs passenger train services through the Channel Tunnel, but German train operator Deutsche Bahn said that it will run direct services from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam from 2013.

Last week, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, Eurotunnel, reported a net profit of 11m euros for 2011, compared with a 58m euro loss the year before.

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