Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Portugal: Strong growth for German tour operators


Tour operators in Germany have double-digit growth in bookings for Portugal this summer as demand surges for Western Mediterranean destinations.

Portugal has already generated good growth on the German market in recent years. Last year, the number of German visitors increased to 1.1 million from 977,000 in 2014, with the Algarve, Madeira and Lisbon as the top destinations. This year’s growth looks set to be even stronger.

Being a Portugal specialist is definitely paying off for Olimar. The family-owned tour operator, which has specialised in the westernmost country in Europe since 1972, currently has a 35% surge in bookings. Managing director Markus Zahn expects an overall increase of at least 20% for the whole year. The only concern is whether capacity will be sufficient to cope with demand. “Not only German tourists are visiting Portugal in greater numbers this summer,” he pointed out.

TUI does not have such worries after expanding its capacity for Portugal massively this year. TUIfly has 14,000 additional seats for Madeira and 8,000 to Faro this summer, while in Lagos the group will open its second adults-only Sensimar resort in Portugal.

Dertour product manager Jens Reinhardt expects a double-digit increase in bookings this year but he warned that Portugal should not take this year’s success, based on the general trend towards the Western Mediterranean, for granted. “As Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia are characterised above all by all-inclusive offers, it will be difficult for Portugal to profit sustainably from this customer group,” he commented.

However, Portugal’s growth is not only a result of the weak bookings for other destinations. Thomas Cook senior product manager Gunter Buseck said the current growth “certainly meets our expectations”. He explained: “The longer summer season on the Algarve from March to November, which we promoted for the first time in 2015, is already proving successful with more bookings.” Moreover, prices for the Algarve this summer are slightly lower than last year, while Cook is benefiting from offering more hotels and tours, he pointed out.

Additional flight capacity, especially to the Algarve, is the most important factor behind this year’s high double-digit growth, according to FTI regional manager Manuel Morales who expects very high demand for the peak season in July and August. He noted that this year’s price stability is the positive result of contracting rates last year before the big switch in destination demand started. “The price rise is not significant. But that could change in 2017,” he cautioned.

Airlines are also responding to this demand by adding more flights from Germany for this summer. Easyjet, Ryanair, Eurowings, Air Berlin and TUIfly will all add various new services from different German airports to the Algarve.

Moreover, tour operators are now looking to maintain the growth trend by diversifying their products and offering more tours of the country and new destinations. Dertour and FTI, for example, both offer self-drive tours from Lisbon to cultural highlights such as Porto and Coimbra, while Studiosus has a cultural trip for families “in the footsteps of the seafarers”.


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