Longhaul and shorthaul markets becoming polarised, says new Cosmos Tourama boss

The longhaul and shorthaul escorted touring markets are becoming polarised by the current economic recession, according to Cosmos’ new specialist businesses managing director.

Alan Maclean, who joined the company last month following a management restructure, said longhaul sales were outperforming shorthaul sales for this summer for the group’s Cosmos Tourama escorting touring brand.

Overall sales are “slightly down” year on year, he said. with a widening gap between longhaul and shorthaul sales. Within the shorthaul market, tours to the eastern Mediterranean are selling better than the western Mediterranean.

The latest booking trend suggests holidaymakers are leaving it later to book escorted tours to shorthaul destinations this year, and backs up evidence of a shift to later bookings in recent trading statements by TUI Travel and Thomas Cook.

Maclean said the shift in sales was despite the fact Cosmos Tourama has negotiated competitive prices for its European package touring holidays, making them cheaper than putting together a dynamic pacakge.

He blamed the later booking trend for shorthaul sales in part on the bad exchange rate with the euro. He said: “Some of it might be to do with consumer perception. There is actually terrific value out there.”

But he added: ”People who would not normally consider a tour should now because the prices are competitive and the price gap compared to putting together holidays yourself has never been wider.”

Maclean added that consumers were willing to book more expensive longhaul tours, provided they felt they were getting value for money. “You have to give people a reason to part with their money. Some of the most expensive tours are selling the best; whether people are spending £3,000 or £600 they understand good value for money,” he said.

The company remained confident shorthaul sales would bounce back. “We are confident we will get these shorthaul bookings. People will always want to see the classic European destinations. But if prices do have to change we will go back to our suppliers,” added Maclean.

He admitted non-euro based destinations such as Turkey and Tunisia were currently performing better.

More information

* Cosmos Tourama to expand in river cruise market (February 2009)

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