Tour Operators Dossier 2020

Low growth for package holidays amid Thomas Cook collapse

The top ten tour operators in Germany/Austria/Switzerland
The top ten tour operators in Germany/Austria/Switzerland

The German tour operator market grew only slightly last year, driven by cruise bookings and specialist holidays, while individual direct bookings showed stronger growth, the latest annual fvw Tour Operators Dossier showed.

The 53 tour operators in Germany, Austria and Switzerland covered by the market study increased their combined revenues by 1.8% to €27.7 billion in the 2018/19 tourism year (ending October 31, 2019). The German market accounted for €24.2 billion out of this total.

However, the overall German outbound travel market (for trips with at least one overnight stay) grew by 3.6% to €69.5 billion last year, according to the monthly survey of 40,000 consumers by market researchers GfK for the German Travel Industry Association (DRV) and made available to fvw. This growth was driven by individual bookings, which increased by 6.8% to €34.1 billion, while organised holidays rose only by a fractional 0.7% to €35.4 billion.

Among the main German market trends in 2019:

  • Lower sales of flight-based beach holidays. Stronger bookings for Turkey, Egypt, the USA and Mexico as well as stable demand for Greece did not compensate for the decline in tour operator bookings for Spain, Bulgaria, Thailand and the Caribbean.
  • Higher average prices but lower customer numbers for tour operators. Revenues grew faster than customer numbers due to higher average prices. These resulted from more bookings of higher priced holidays such as cruises and long-haul trips. Total tour operator customer numbers dropped by 1.8%, according to the dossier.
  • Cruises keep growing. Sales revenues of cruise operators covered by the fvw dossier grew by 11.6%, with a stronger rise for customer numbers and lower average prices.
  • Good business for specialists. Medium-sized tour operators who have specialized in destinations or holiday types outgrew the overall market with a combined 4.6% revenue increase.

Market leaders profit from Thomas Cook insolvency

The dramatic insolvency of Thomas Cook last September dominated the German market in 2019 and helped several rivals to increase their sales significantly towards the end of the summer season

The former number two is estimated to have ended the 2018/19 year with turnover of €3.36 billion in German-speaking markets, down by 20% on the previous year. This figure comprises about €2.5 billion worth of tour operator package holiday sales and a further €860 million from Condor seat-only bookings. Many Cook customers re-booked holidays with rival companies following the firm’s sudden collapse.

Market leader TUI Germany profited slightly from this development and ended the 2018/19 tourism year with a small 1% rise to estimated revenues of €5.81 billion in the Germany/Austria/Switzerland region, the fvw dossier showed. DER Touristik moved up into second place last year with a small 1.2% increase in regional revenues to €3.44 billion.

A big winner once again was FTI Group, which increased its overall tour operator revenues in the three countries by 10.3% to €3.2 billion. The Munich-based group, which is seen as German market leader to Egypt and Turkey, may well be bigger than DER in the German market given the latter’s large businesses in Switzerland (Kuoni) and Austria.

The clear number five is now Aida Cruises, which, like rival TUI Cruises, had double-digit growth last year thanks to new ships. In contrast, beach holiday specialist Alltours and Schauinsland Reisen generated only low growth, despite the disappearance of Thomas Cook.

Many tour operators are optimistic about their sales prospects this year, according to the fvw survey. The market leaders all hope to win former Thomas Cook customers and generate substantial growth through a ‘Cook effect’.

The fvw Tour Operators Dossier 2020 features detailed tables and graphics showing the revenues of the 53 companies, including by holiday type, as well as market shares and sizes. The publication can be ordered through the fvw Shop for 49 euros.