German tour operators head for new records

German bookings for Portugal look set to grow strongly again this year thanks to new offers and more flights.

January 25, 2017
More hotels in Porto
Photo: Thinkstock

Portugal was one of the winners on the German outbound travel market last year with an estimated 11% increase to 1.23 million visitors. Europe’s westernmost country has seen high single-digit or low double-digit growth from Germany for the last five years, according to figures from Visit Portugal. The Algarve, Lisbon and Madeira are the top destination regions for German tourists, who make up about 10% of Portugal’s total visitor numbers.

German tour operators also reported good 2016 sales figures for the destination. Specialist Olimar increased its Portugal revenues by 25%, while Dertour product manager Jens Reinhardt said 2016 was “the best year in our 12-year history in Portugal”, with high double-digit increases for the Azores and Madeira. Elsewhere, Alltours and FTI both referred to “satisfactory bookings growth” and Schauinsland had “a very good double-digit increase” for the Algarve and Madeira.

For 2017 tour operators are also optimistic. Gunter Buseck, senior product manager Portugal for Neckermann Reisen and Thomas Cook Signature, said: “Bookings for Madeira and the Algarve are currently ahead of last year.” TUI product manager Sven Görrissen commented: “Portugal is again gaining importance for German holidaymakers in the current winter season.”

Growth drivers for this summer are more flight connections from Germany, new offers and attractive new or renovated hotels. TUIfly will have more flights to the Algarve, Ryanair will fly from Frankfurt and Hamburg to Faro, while TAP Air Portugal will launch twice-daily Stuttgart-Lisbon flights.

Many tour operators have increased capacity, with Olimar adding 60 more hotels, Alltours doubling its Portugal programme, and FTI adding two new regions (Troia and Alentejo) as well as 32 more hotels.

The German firms are particularly hopeful about Porto Santo, the small neighbouring island of Madeira which features a 9km broad sandy beach. Condor will launch weekly flights to the island from Frankfurt and Düsseldorf in April. Neckermann Reisen offers the island, which senior product manager Gunter Buseck describes as “a hidden tip and ideal getaway for every target group”, as a new destination with eight hotels. Olimar, which operates full-charter flights with Germania, and Dertour have both added more hotels on the island as well.

Meanwhile, there are a range of new or renovated hotels in many regions of Portugal. Ten hotels opened in or around Porto last year, eight new properties are due to open in or close to Lisbon this year, and there are several new resorts or apartment complexes on the Algarve.

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