fvw DRV Destination Forum

Comeback for Tunisia on German market but more flights are needed

Tunisia is making a strong comeback on the German market but tour operators and airlines need to add more capacity, travel experts demanded at a recent destination event organised by fvw and DRV in Tunis.

May 03, 2018
(From left) Tour operator managers Yasemin Akladious (FTI), Hakan Bakar (Anex Tour), Pia Wolf (Ferien Touristik), Stefan Schönwälder (Thomas Cook) and Gosia Jankowska (TUI) discussed Tunisia’s tourism development with fvw’s Klaus Hildebrandt (right).
Photo: Jan-Timo Schaube

The North African destination can look forward to a good year in terms of German visitor numbers as its recovery continues. Tour operators have a 40% increase in bookings at present, and about 300,000 German tourists could holiday in the country this year compared to 181,000 in 2017. This is still some way off previous record levels, such as 425,000 German visitors in 2013 and 2014, but a clear recovery from declines of 49% and 40% in 2015 and 2016 respectively following terrorist attacks.

Tunisia is currently among the growth drivers for the German package holiday market, said DRV president Norbert Fiebig at the destination forum. Major operators such as TUI, Thomas Cook and DER Touristik are among the market leaders to the destination, while FTI has strong hopes but is holding back from launching any own-brand hotels yet. Smaller operators such as Ferien Touristik (OTI) are back while Anex Tour is promoting the destination more strongly.

A key reason for this year’s comeback is the return of German leisure airlines. Last year only Tunisair, Nouvelair and Eurowings flew from Germany to Tunisia but this summer Azur Air, Condor, Germania and TUIfly will all operate direct flights from diverse German airports.

The outlook for 2019 is better, too. Tour operators are likely to commit themselves to larger contingents, meaning that leisure airlines will be able to expand flights.

More flights will be urgently needed if the comeback is to be maintained, according to travel agents among the 45 participants at the forum. Wolfram Schneppe, owner of a travel agency in Nuremberg (Bavaria), for example, said that his customers currently have to fly from Berlin and sometimes return to Düsseldorf if they want a holiday in Tunisia. Both airports are several hours away from their home region. “Like this it’s even difficult to persuade Tunisia fans to book a holiday there,” he commented.

Participants in the four-day information event, which included hotel inspections and excursions to local attractions, gained a clear impression of Tunisia’s potential beyond simple beach holidays for price-conscious families, including its cultural heritage and culinary offering. Moreover, many hoteliers used the downturn of 2015-2016 to renovate and upgrade their properties, while new top hotels have opened more recently.

The destination still faces major challenges, however, including the need to clean up public areas close to hotels and to improve public infrastructure.

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