European tourists have set aside security fears as travel bookings surge, says tour operator Thomas Cook.

Tourism is important for small businesses in Turkey, where authorities have been trying to find ways to attract foreign visitors.
Tourism is important for small businesses in Turkey, where authorities have been trying to find ways to attract foreign visitors.

Foreign holidays remain a top priority for Europeans despite economic and security worries, tour operator Thomas Cook said on Tuesday, reporting a 40 percent jump in bookings to Greece and signs of a recovery in travel to Turkey and Egypt.

"Customers' appetite to go abroad on holiday this summer is good across all our markets," CEO Peter Fankhauser said.

"After a slow start to the season and a tough year in 2016, we're seeing early signs that customers are beginning to go back to Turkey and Egypt," he added.

Thomas Cook, a company that arranges holidays for around 20 million people a year, is expected to report full-year operating profit of around $412 million.

It said summer bookings for the group were up 10 percent compared to a weak period last year.

Tourists had turned their backs on previously popular resorts in Turkey and elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean last summer because of concerns about security, leaving Thomas Cook scrambling to find more hotel accommodations in Spain and Portugal.

It said it had expanded capacity in Greece this season, while smaller destinations such as Cyprus, Bulgaria and Croatia were also proving popular.

Turkey's tourism industry has been hit by security concerns and a diplomatic row with Russia in 2015.

The two countries have since normalised ties.

Tourism adds more than $20 billion to Turkey's economy, and its revival is important for thousands of people working at hotels, restaurants and travel agencies. In its 2014 heyday, the country's tourism industry attracted a record 37 million foreign visitors.

Source: TRT World