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Europe's leading tour operator, TUI Travel has recorded a rise in annual profits of 15% for the year to the end of September. Pre-tax profits were up from £319 million to £366 million, beating rival operator Thomas Cook who yesterday announced flat profit levels.

TUI Travel were satisfied with the results for summer 2009 saying they had met expectations, partly due to them being able to achieve their required load factors and consistently strong selling prices. Balearic Island holidays remained as popular as ever with non euro resorts such as Turkey, Greece and Croatia proving to be strong destinations.

Reductions in capacity and strong selling prices have led to promising results, despite the harsh economic climate. The Swine Flu outbreak also had a huge impact on the travel industry, costing TUI Travel &pound9 million in compensation and repatriation costs.

Winter bookings are down 16% on last year but TUI have reduced capacity by 13% so this should slightly outweigh this, however the last couple of weeks have seen a small increase suggesting that customers may be looking for last minute holidays to destinations such as ever popular Balearic Island holidays.

CEO for TUI Travel Peter Long stated "We have managed capacity carefully for the current winter season and as a result remain confident that we can meet our Board's expectations for 2010".

Looking towards 2010 the signs are encouraging, the average selling prices for package holidays is up 7%, although bookings are currently down 3%, suggesting that customers are looking at higher value holidays.

Peter Long concluded "Our customers' behaviour has demonstrated that even against a backdrop of reduced customer confidence, the main summer holiday is an essential expenditure".

TUI Travel operates under four main sectors; Specialist and Emerging Markets, Mainstream, Activity and Accommodation and Destinations. With over 200 brand names within the group ensuring it remains a leader in the global travel market.