TUI is the first tourism consortium in the world and owns three lines of business: the tour operator TUI Travel, TUI Hotels and TUI Cruises. The Spanish branch is headquartered in Palma de Mallorca and has a team of 1,200 people as well as operational offices in 29 tourist destinations in Spain. The TUI Spain managed 10% of the total number of tourists that visited the country in 2013.
For a few weeks now, the Spanish chain Riu has become the second major stockholder in Tui, after buying part of the shares sold by the Norwegian investor John Fredriksen. The first stockholder is the Russian Alexey Mordashov, who owns 25% of the bonds.
For its part, Germany is the country that spends the most on travels abroad: almost $80 billion per year. German tourists are the second most important tourist group for Spain (after the British), and represent almost 10 million tourists each year.
Question.- Which is TUI’s percentage of turnover for the tourist business in Spain? How will it be in the future?
Answer.- Spain is by far the most important tourist destination for TUI and its clients. We are registering an outstanding demand for all the major Spanish destinations for next summer. This means that Spain will repeat its success as tourist destination in 2014, especially Mallorca, which is TUI’s first big destination. Spain is and will continue to be a key destination for us.
Q.- What has been the impact of the Spanish crisis on the German tourist industry?
A.- The Spanish crisis is a financial crisis, not a tourist one. In that sense, German tourists don’t let themselves be influenced at all by Spain’s crisis when they choose the countries they want to visit. That doesn’t affect them. The same happens regarding other destinations also badly damaged by the crisis. Travel sales to Greece are really good and the high demand will allow this country recovering its strength as tourist destination in the Mediterranean.
Q.- How do you explain that “traveller’s passion” in the German people? There is no other country that spends so much money in trips abroad as Germany.
A.- Yes, it is true. The only explanation is that for Germans, traveling is highly appreciated. So much so that their savings are ultimately invested on it, because it is an absolute priority for them.
Q.- What do you think is the reason for Spain’s tourist success? What does the country do well and what should it improve and maintain its leading position?
A.- Spain’s big asset is its diversity as a tourist destination, which enables the country to offer an appropriate high-quality offer for each target group. It is also important that the German tourists feel at home in Spain. They can move freely and enjoy all the spontaneity of the Spaniards, as well as the large amount of cultural, natural and sportive services, which enable us to try new tendencies in the country, such as TUI’s new hotel concepts.
Q.- What is TUI’s aim in Spain?
A.- Primarily, we want to introduce our new hotel concepts aimed at groups of specific customers. That’s the key to the future for TUI because the hotel by itself is now the new destination, whereas its location becomes a secondary aspect. This tendency allows us to mobilize the clientele towards our hotels. An example is Mallorca, TUI’s first destination. We are working in new offers to boost winter tourism on the island. Regarding what could Spain do to maintain its leading position, I think price is essential. It is important not to lose sight of the price discipline in order to make Spain’s tourist offer competitive. We ask our hoteliers to set up their prices in a flexible manner throughout the year as well as boost the demand in “low” seasons with special offers.
Q.- What role do the demographic change and the population ageing play? Does is change the demand? Which will be the impact of such change for Spain?
A.- What changes is not only the population pyramid, but their values and attitudes as well. It is clear that people over 65 years old are completely different from those retirees from 30 years ago. But the most important for us (for the tourist industry) is that it is a really heterogeneous group. That’s why we cannot offer a particular product for elder people, which is a challenge for us. We must know exactly which needs, interests and criteria are decisive in their holidays. In general, we can say that today’s client values more the individuality and wants an offer adapted to their personal wishes. We have to take into account that they are experienced travellers with very different wishes. Thus, the so-called best agers want exotic countries, very far away from their cultural circle. In short, they dare to try new different things.
SPAIN IN FIGURES
The Spanish tourist sector recorded a €2,1 billion surplus last January, i.e. 10.5% more than the same period in 2013. The number of foreign tourists grew by 11.8% thus reaching over 6.2 million up to February. They spent over €6,1 billion up to February, 9.1% more than in 2013.
According to Frontur, the surplus was brought about by a 7.4% increase in the sector’s revenues and by a 14% rise in payments. Meanwhile, the services balance’s surplus recorded €2,7 billion, 22.7% more than in 2013.
The World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts a 2% growth of the Spanish tourist sector in 2014, while Coyntur says that the number of international tourists will be over 17 million in the second semester of the year (9.6% more than in 2013).