The many German mid-sized and specialist tour operators mostly had a successful year in 2017 despite challenging and turbulent times, and are confident about prospects for this year, according to the fvw Tour Operators Dossier 2018.
The Air Berlin insolvency, weaker demand for Turkey and hurricanes in the Caribbean were just some of the developments that impacted on smaller tourism companies in Germany last year. But most managed to generate growth, including some at high double-digit rates, the fvw dossier shows. The fastest-growing mid-sized tour operators last year with increases of more than 20% were Bentour, Lernidee, Attika and Chamäleon, but six others also managed growth of over 15%.
With 35% growth to revenues of €74 million, Turkey specialist Bentour recovered strongly from a weak previous year and returned to 2015 levels. “Our product expansion to destinations such as Greece, Spain and Portugal was accepted by the market,” explained CEO Deniz Ugur. Attika (+22% to €22m revenues) benefited from strong demand for Greece, while Lernidee (+ 26% to €45m) and Chamäleon (+ 20% to €57m) profited from good demand for exotic holidays.
The two largest dynamic tour operators both performed well. Vtours (+18% to €252m) continued its strong growth of the previous year, while LMX (+ 20% to €175m) grew faster than in 2016. One reason could be the insolvency of rival JT Touristik, whose 2016/17 revenues are estimated by fvw to have stagnated at €176 million, and the low 2% growth of smaller rival Ferien Touristik.
Specialists for cultural holidays, such as study tours and ‘experience trips’, generally had a satisfactory year. Market leader Studiosus/Marco Polo increased revenues by 5% to €276 million, while TUI-owned Gebeco/Dr. Tigges grew slightly to €118 million. Smaller rivals such as Lernidee, Chamäleon, Diamir Erlebnisreisen (+18% to €36m) and Ikarus Tours (+13% to €34m) all generated double-digit growth. The largest tour operator for ‘active holidays’ (e.g. hiking group tours), Wikinger Reisen, had healthy growth of 9% to €108 million.
Destination specialists had a mixed year. While Bentour and Attika grew strongly, Olimar, which focuses mainly on Portugal, could not maintain the previous year’s 21% revenue rise and dropped back by 4%. Canusa had a solid 5% rise in revenue with strong growth for Canada and a slight rise for the USA.
Looking ahead, most mid-sized German tour operators are optimistic about the outlook for 2018. Nearly half of those surveyed expect to increase revenues by more than 5% this year.