Thomas Cook summer bookings down

Thomas Cook
Image caption Thomas Cook said summer bookings had been "more encouraging"

Tour operator Thomas Cook says its summer bookings are still below last year's levels but that they have been improving.

Its total UK bookings for summer 2012 are currently down 2% compared with the same stage last year.

But the company has reduced capacity, expecting a difficult year, so it now has 17% fewer holidays left to sell than it did this time last year.

It added online bookings had improved considerably in the past four weeks.

The company attributed the 19% increase in online bookings to recent improvements to its websites.

Average selling prices were up 4%.

The relatively benign figures compare with the 33% fall in bookings reported for the two weeks to 13 January, which is a key period for tour operators.

At the time the company said that drop had reflected its reduced capacity.

But Thomas Cook has said that it still expects a tough year.

"As we stated in our first quarter results, we continue to expect 2011-12 to be a challenging year given the economic backdrop and difficult trading environment, particularly for winter," the statement said.

"The trends which we saw in the first quarter have continued through the second quarter, but summer trading is more encouraging."

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