THE changing habits of British holidaymakers and the demise of the traditional package holiday have forced Thomson Holidays, one of the UK's largest travel firms, into carrying out a major restructuring programme. This will cost thousands of jobs but is not expected to have a negative effect here in the Balearics, one of its main cruise and beach holiday markets. With more and more travellers booking on line and the independent travel market continuing to enjoy steady growth, Thomson's parent company TUI announced in Hamburg yesterday that 2'600 jobs are going to be lost in the United Kingdom. The tourism and shipping giant primarily blamed the cuts on the growth in online sales, although chief executive Michael Frenzel also acknowledged that 2006 had been “not a good year”. He said the company had been forced to embark on a restructuring programme. “Our action plan clearly aims to significantly improve profitability in the tourism division,” he said. “Despite the currently difficult market situation in shipping and tourism, TUI is aiming to achieve a substantial improvement in earnings in the medium term.” About a third of the planned jobs are to go from back office support staff during the next two to three years.
About 900 of the earmarked 2'600 have already been cut with the closure of its Glasgow call centre earlier this month.
Details of the final third of job losses have not been revealed, but are unlikely to include customer-facing staff such as those who work in its shops, online or on its airline. Online sales now account for about half of Thomson's total business in the UK. “These changes are being made to align back office activities with the demands of a business that now has nearly 40 percent of its sales generated from the sale flights, hotel accommodation and dynamic packages”, Thomson said in a statement. But, TUI will be restructuring its travel operations across the board and it also announced that it is to shed about 3'600 jobs in total with 400 being axed in Germany, 200 in France and a further 400 elsewhere in addition to the UK losses.

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