Britain’s Saga reports weak demand for tour packages due to reluctance to travel overseas

(Reuters) – Britain’s Saga said on Wednesday demand for its tour packages remained below pre-pandemic levels as customers were cautious about overseas travel, and the crisis in Ukraine could also reduce bookings short-term trips.

Shares of the company fell 7% in morning trading.

The holiday group, which provides products and services suitable for customers over 50 in the UK, said its cruise bookings for 2022/23 were however higher than two years ago due to a spurned request. The company resumed cruises in June after a hiatus of more than a year.

The travel industry, which had been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, is starting to recover, although the risks of new variants of the coronavirus and war in Europe still threaten the pace of recovery.

“Looking ahead, I am both confident and excited about the opportunities ahead of us as we emerge from the pandemic stronger than we did, while remaining mindful of the current challenging external environment,” chief executive Euan Sutherland said.

Saga said its tour bookings for 2022/23 were 132 million pounds ($175.02 million) as of March 20, 30% below pre-pandemic levels.

The company, which also sells insurance to over-50s, said it expects new pricing rules imposed by UK regulators to cut its car and home insurance profits. Last year, it benefited from lower car insurance claims.

The Kent-based company reported a pre-tax loss of £23.5 million for the year to January 31, compared with a loss of £61.2 million a year earlier.

($1 = 0.7542 pounds)

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V)