August 10, 2017 / 6:13 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 2-Spain is "pretty full", TUI says other destinations could benefit

* Q3 core profit 221.6 mln eur, up 38 pct on late Easter

* Now sees FY sales up “significantly more” than 3 pct

* Says UK demand stabilised

* Sees Bulgaria, Cape Verde as up and coming

* Says confident of Turkey demand returning (Recasts with CEO comments)

By Victoria Bryan

BERLIN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - European holidaymakers could turn to destinations such as Bulgaria and Cape Verde if they want to avoid high prices in busy Spanish destinations, the chief executive of European tourism group TUI said on Thursday.

Tourists have been piling into Spain over the last two years due to security concerns around other summer destinations such as Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. Visitors to Spain jumped 12 percent in the first half of 2017 to 36.4 million.

Reports have also circulated in the past week that chronic overcrowding in some of Europe’s most beloved tourism hotspots is fuelling a backlash by locals against visitors.

“Spain is pretty full,” Fritz Joussen told journalists after the group reported third-quarter results. “Last year we had an all-time high and this year we will be on similar levels.”

Joussen said most people in Spain were happy with tourists because they help provide jobs and support the economy. But with prices for Spain rising due to high demand, other more affordable destinations could come into play.

“If demand is very high, prices are high and other destinations build because they are more affordable and that is what is happening right now,” Joussen said.

The higher prices could be a factor in particular for British customers, who have seen the cost of their holidays rise due to the weak pound following the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

“Initially we saw some weakening demand, but it’s now resilient so people are getting used to higher prices,” Joussen said of UK customers.

He said TUI would probably not reduce capacity for Turkey next year, because demand was coming back. And he said TUI would look at adding Tunisia back into its programme but no decision had been taken.

Rival Thomas Cook is planning to restart holidays to Tunisia after Britain altered its travel advice but said it would take time to set up.

Joussen was speaking after the group increased its sales target for the year to “significantly more” than 3 percent growth and reported a 38 percent rise in core profit to 221.6 million euros, partly thanks to the later timing of Easter.

It confirmed a target for core earnings to rise by at least 10 percent this year.

$1 = 0.8520 euros Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Holmes

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