• France and Spain most popular travel destinations worldwide: That’s what figures of the World Tourism Organization UNWTO show. Accordingly, 86.9 million visitors wanted to get to know the French way of life and culture in 2017. This puts France, as in 2016, at the top of the top destinations. This was an increase of 5.1% compared to 2016. Spain moved up to second place with 81.8 million visitors, the increase to 2016 was a significant 8.6%. The US, however, slipped from second to third place. Only 75.9 million visitors wanted to get to know the US, which is a drop of 3.8% compared to the previous year. According to UNWTO data, the US is the only country in the top ten with a visitor decline. It is followed by China (60.7 million visitors), Italy (58.3 million), Mexico (39.3 million) and Great Britain (37.7 million). The biggest leap was made by Turkey. It climbed from tenth to eighth place with 37.6 million visitors, an increase of 24.1%. However, in 2016, the country had suffered significant losses. Despite a growth of 5.2% to 37.5 million visitors, Germany only finished ninth. In the previous year, it was still in seventh place. The bottom of the top ten this year is Thailand, which was visited by 35.4 million visitors. That’s an increase of 8.6%.
• Foreign tourists flock to German destinations: According to fvw, various major destinations across Germany have released positive figures for the first six months of this year, including several new records. Across the country as a whole, the total number of overnight stays by domestic visitors grew by 4% while foreign visitors generated a 5% rise in stays. Many destinations are now aiming to attract more foreign visitors to reduce over-dependence on domestic holidaymakers. Berlin welcomed about 6.4 million visitors, which is a 4.4% increase on last year. Hamburg saw a similar trend, but as the bulk of these visitors were from other parts of Germany, the city is now aiming to generate stronger growth from European and overseas markets. Nuremberg saw a surge of American visitors whose overnight stays increased by 9.1% in the first half-year. The overall number of stays by foreign visitors increased by 10.6% while domestic overnights were up by 7.9%. Similarly, Stuttgart had stronger growth in overnight stays by international visitors (+7.3%) than from the rest of Germany (+1.7%). Dresden also had a good overall half-year, with overnight stays up by 8.4%, while the neighbouring ‘Swiss Saxony’ region achieved a new record with a 6.9% increase. Among traditional holiday regions, Schleswig-Holstein had a very strong half-year thanks to the long heatwave which drew people to its beaches. The Lake Constance region in southern Germany also performed well with a 6.7% rise in visitor numbers and a 3% increase to nearly two million overnight stays. In contrast, North Rhine-Westphalia stagnated in the first half of this year. The number of overnight stays by foreign visitors declined by 3.5%.
Tour operator news:
• German travel agents enjoy sales growth again: According to the annual fvw ‘German travel sales’ dossier based on company figures and calculations by the German Travel Industry Association (DRV), travel agents increased their combined sales by 4.6% to €26.4 billion last year. This compensated for a 2.4% decline in 2016 and took revenues above 2015 levels. Tourism sales increased by 5% to €14.8 billion, which did not fully compensate for a 5.6% slump in 2016. Flight sales grew by 4.1% to €8.4 billion, building on a 2% increase in 2016, while rail ticket sales declined slightly to under €600 million. Other revenues increased by 5.3% to over €2.5 billion. Although the 4.6% sales growth appears good, two factors need to be taken into account. The German tour operator market, which accounts for a large proportion of travel agency sales, grew by a higher 8% to €33.7 billion last year. Moreover, OTAs and TO websites increased revenues by as much as 14%. Traditional travel agencies are thus continuing to lose market share in a growing market. There were few changes in the top five ranking: DER Touristik remained Germany’s largest travel agency chain, increasing sales by 3.5% to €4.62 billion. The RT Group and TUI Germany both generated solid growth of 2.1% and 2.7% respectively. The TSS cooperation network grew strongly with an 8.6% increase in revenues. The new number five is the Schmetterling cooperation group which overtook Lufthansa City Center. The remaining organisations in the top ten ranking are business travel specialist BCD, LCC, Thomas Cook Partner Group, and cooperation groupings AER and Best-Reisen.
• DER Touristik: At Dertour, Meiers Weltreisen and ADAC Reisen, it is already possible to book a campervan holiday in North America for summer 2019 and winter 2019/20. In the current early bird catalogues, travel dates for Canada are between April 1st and October 31st, 2019 and for the US between April 1st, 2019 and March 31st, 2020. The early bird offers are bookable until November 11th, 2018.
• Winter trend destinations: Trend 1 – North Africa: Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia are making a comeback this winter. TUI has a new concept with two Suneo Clubs. DER Touristik is now working with the Red Sea Hotels and has added 16 additional houses in Egypt. In Egypt, FTI opens the Kairaba Lagoon Sahl Hasheesh, the first home of the premium brand Kairaba, this fall. Thomas Cook has expanded with six houses in Tunisia, three in Egypt and two in Marrakech. The Iberostar Founty Beach in Agadir has been completely renovated. Alltours has also considerably expanded its capacities in Egypt. In Tunisia, Alltours has added houses of the chains Iti and Prima Sol. Bentour has added three more hotels in Tunisia. Schauinsland offers the new Steigenberger Pure Lifestyle in Hurghada. ETI is coming up with new Red Sea hotels. Among other things, Studiosus has a new 13-day study trip «Morocco – Orient to touch» in the program. Trend 2 – Family holidays; Trend 3 – River cruises; Trend 4 – Health vacation; Trend 5 – Sustainable travel.
• Laudamotion unveils expansion plans and new look: According to fvw, the Austrian airline, which is now 75% owned by Ryanair and 25% by Niki Lauda, will expand from nine to 18 Airbus planes in summer 2019. In addition, the airline will introduce a new aircraft design featuring just the name ‘Lauda’ from the end of this year onwards. The Vienna-based airline will also increase pay for pilots, putting them well ahead of Eurowings.
• Flight chaos – Eurowings promises better support for travel agents: Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings is promising better communications, more customer service and closer contacts with German travel agents in future after a summer marred by many cancelled and delayed flights. «Communication between us and travel agencies will be significantly improved,» promised Eurowings sales manager Oliver Schmitt. Referring to operational measures in the last few weeks, he added: «The measures introduced by Eurowings are already showing results. We have significantly improved our performance and significantly reduced flight schedule changes.» As the next step, the two sides will set up a working group, including representatives of leisure and business travel agencies, to discuss mutual issues and general industry challenges, and agree on improvements and solutions. Importantly, Eurowings has promised to increase the number of call centre staff by 40% to respond more quickly to travel agency queries. In addition, the airline has strengthened its airport teams to help stranded passengers more quickly in the future. Ralf Hieke, a DRV vice-president who represents medium-sized travel agents, welcomed Eurowings’ commitment. «I am glad that we were able to make our positions very clear in exchange with Eurowings and that we are now sitting at the same table,» he said.
• Condor will add a new connection from Hamburg to Agadir in Morocco from November 6th. In addition, Condor offers connections from Hamburg to Mallorca, Antalya and Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia also this winter.
• Primera Air: Another budget airline wants to enter Berlin-Tegel airport. Primera Air, which is well-known for its charter flights in Europe and ambitious fleet expansion, is entering long-haul flights from Germany. Three new intercontinental services are available from Berlin-Tegel at the extremely low entry-level prices of 149 euros for a one-way journey: daily from June 7th to New York (JFK), four times a week from June 9th to Boston and from June 10th three times to Toronto.