Turkey is flying high and North Africa is also selling strongly but bookings for Spain and some other southern European destinations remain weak, according to German tour operators.
Leading tour operators were generally optimistic before and at ITB about current bookings, even though overall sales for summer 2019 on the German market are about 2% down on last year at present.
TUI Germany chief Marek Andryszak said the market leader’s sales picked up last month after a poor January and are back to last year’s record levels. Top performing destinations include Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, the USA and the Caribbean. “The above-average growth in the eastern Mediterranean is the most noticeable trend in summer 2019,” commented TUI’s tourism chief Stefan Baumert.
But elsewhere, the picture is more mixed. Bookings are down at DER Touristik for the Canaries, Croatia and Italy, but the Greek islands, Egypt and Tunisia are all up, and Turkey has jumped 50%. Overall, however, sales are below expectations, prompting the country’s third-largest tour operator to extend early booking discounts to try to drive up sales.
“Something is preventing many customers from booking their summer holidays at the moment,” admitted Central Europe chief René Herzog. “It can’t be the economy and jobs situation. More likely it is the effect of the record (hot) summer in Germany in 2018.” Many Germans stayed at home or drove to holidays on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts instead of flying to the Mediterranean last summer.
In contrast, FTI has higher revenues this year thanks to a 50% rise in Turkey bookings and strong growth for Egypt and various long-haul destinations. CEO Dietmar Gunz said: “After being held back at the start of the year, bookings are increasingly gathering pace.” He predicted further growth as families started to book in greater numbers.
Alltours has even doubled its Turkey bookings for the summer and other strong sellers are Egypt and Tunisia. The company now hopes for better bookings for Majorca, its top destination, and the Canaries. Owner Willi Verhuven reiterated his target of 5.6% revenue growth and a 3.2% rise in customer numbers for the 2018/19 year as a whole.
Local rival Schauinsland-Reisen bucked the market with total sales growth of 10% in January driven by strong demand for Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt and the UAE, and expects to meet the target of a 5% rise in customer numbers this year. Owner Gerald Kassner forecast: “I’m confident that the Balearics and the Canaries can make a turnaround with strong late sales and can lie at last year’s levels by the end of the business year.”
Meanwhile, Fluege.de, one of Germany’s top online flights portals, is up for sale, Boris Raoul, the CEO of owner Invia, told fvw at ITB. The Czech group wants to focus on its higher-margin online tour operator Ab In Den Urlaub. The sale could offer an international competitor a foothold in the huge German travel market, according to experts.