Leading German tour operators have reported strong bookings for summer 2018 holidays thanks to the Eastern Mediterranean comeback but one firm, Alltours, is warning of a possible capacity squeeze in Greece and Turkey as a result.
Germany’s top six tour operators – TUI, Thomas Cook, DER Touristik, FTI, Alltours and Schauinsland-Reisen – released a mix of booking figures and destination trends before or at ITB last week. The German Travel Industry Association (DRV) and researchers GfK had earlier disclosed an overall double-digit rise in summer sales on the German market as of end-January.
Alltours reported a double-digit sales increase, with heavy demand for Greece, Turkey and Egypt along with mixed trends for Spain with lower bookings but higher revenues due to price increases. Managing director Markus Daldrup warned at ITB: “There could be a bed shortage in Turkey and Greece. Not only the German market but others, such as Russia, are growing too.” Spain bookings were suffering from significantly higher prices and the doubling of the tourist tax on Majorca, he commented.
Similarly, FTI also has a double-digit increase in sales revenues and bookings for the current business year, driven by strong sales for Turkey, Greece (+50%) and Egypt. Ralph Schiller, Group Managing Director, commented: “The destination shift that we could see two years ago is reversing again. Holidaymakers are returning massively to Turkey and the Red Sea.” The company’s new charter flights to Bodrum are selling well, he added.
Schauinsland-Reisen has raised its forecasts for this year thanks to strong bookings and now expects an increase of up to 10% in customer numbers. Turkey, Egypt and Greece are the clear growth drivers, with each of them up by 50% compared to the same time last year, while Portugal, Bulgaria and the Emirates are all 20% ahead of 2017 at present. Owner Gerald Kassner said: “The bookings in recent weeks and months make us very confident that the current business year will be a good one for the tourism industry and for Schauinsland-Reisen.”
As listed groups, TUI and Thomas Cook were less forthcoming with sales figures. TUI Germany said it had a “clear” increase in bookings and a rising share of the tour operator market, driven by Eastern Mediterranean destinations such as Greece (2-digit growth) and Turkey (+50%) as well as North Africa (Egypt and Tunisia), while Spain remained its top destination with higher sales. “Growth in the east is not impacting on western destinations,” commented tourism programme chief Stefan Baumert.
Similarly, Thomas Cook has strong bookings for Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Egypt and Tunisia, while Spain is stable at last year’s levels. However, Germany chief Stefanie Berk cautioned: “The question is how much of the good trend is early demand and how much is real growth.” On Turkey, she commented: “Measured in terms of the flight capacity, a doubling of customer numbers is possible. 2018 could be a record summer.”
The UK-based group also announced the launch of Thomas Cook Hotel Investments, a joint venture fund with Swiss-based hotel property development company, LMEY Investments. Thomas Cook Hotel Investments will consist of five seed hotel assets worth around £150 million, and will buy properties across key destination markets to expand Thomas Cook’s own-brand hotel portfolio.
The five seed assets are two Sunwing hotels in Greece (Rhodes and Crete), two Aldiana hotels in Spain, and their first joint project, a fifth Casa Cook which will open on Ibiza in summer 2019. The first two Casa Cook hotels on Rhodes and Kos will joined by a property on Crete this summer and then one in Croatia next year.
Meanwhile, DER Touristik, which also has similar sales trends in Germany as other tour operators, has completed the acquisition of Kuoni France to enter the French tour operating market. Kuoni France, which has annual turnover of €144 million from sales of premium holidays to 58,000 customers, “is the haute couture of travel,” said DER Touristik CEO Sören Hartmann.