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Press Release

Deal activity on the rise in travel sector

New research from leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP finds that M&A deal volumes in the travel sector are on the rise, as post-pandemic holiday demand continues and confidence in the sector slowly starts to rebuild.

The firm’s latest research finds that there were 11 deals recorded in the sector in Q3, a 10% increase on the previous quarter and a 38% increase compared to the same quarter last year.

Private equity (PE) interest in the sector has increased this quarter, accounting for 27% of deals in Q3, compared to 10% in Q2. PE deals in the third quarter of the year were characterised by minority investments and fundraisings, demonstrating interest from growth-orientated investors.  

Notable deals in the travel and accommodation sector this quarter included:

  • Going for growth in PE: TravelLocal secured an £8.3 million Series B fundraising from investors, including Puma Private Equity, in September.
  • Doing the deal double: Portman Travel Group made two acquisitions in Q3 through its Clarity and Destination Sport subsidiaries - in August, Clarity acquired corporate travel management company Agiito from Capita plc for an enterprise value of £36.5 million. In September 2023, Destination Sport announced the acquisition of Sportsworld.
  • Property companies drive hotel deals: Swedish-based property company Pandox AB acquired the Hilton Belfast from Starwood Capital for around £40 million. In the same month, Henderson Park, a private equity real estate manager, bought Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria for £85 million from the hospitality investment arm of UAE-based Lulu Group International.

Commenting on the research, Nicola Sartori, Partner and Head of Consumer and Travel, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“Following the rebound in overseas travel in 2022, it looks as if appetite for travel companies is here to stay. Passenger confidence is starting to feed through to M&A activity as financial investors and trade buyers become more bullish about the sector’s recovery. Private equity interest is also starting to re-build in the sector, with a notable increase in activity this quarter compared to last.


“As confidence builds, trade parties are shifting from opportunistic acquisitions into strategic investment, to facilitate continued growth and diversify into new markets. We expect deal activity to pick up further in early 2024 as sellers and buyers – from sole traders to larger corporations – take advantage of the positive momentum in the travel industry.” 


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