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International tour operators see heavy impact on market share for Spanish destinations

The status quo of traditional distribution channels in the travel industry is undergoing major changes. After the turning point marked in September 2019 with the fall of Thomas Cook, the pandemic has further weakened the global position of tour operating. To analyse this trend, Mabrian Technologies has carried out an analysis of the evolution of the market share held by tour operators in some of the most important holiday destinations in Spain. This study has analysed the air capacity programmed by the tour operation companies compared to the rest of the airlines for the months of June, July and August.

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In addition, a comparison between the 2021 and 2019 seasons has been included to observe the difference. In total, more than 37 million air seats have been included in the analysis.

Overall, whichever of the main destinations we looked at for Spain, this summer international tour operators from source markets like the UK and Germany have lost an important chunk of their market share when compared to 2019.

It is worth pointing out that whilst in terms of the percentage of market share the drops might seem small, in overall terms this is massive: Malaga’s drop from 8% to 5% means almost a halving in bookings, Mallorca’s drop is equivalent to 20% of sales, and so on. No one can ignore such significant hits.

What’s behind this? The tour operator share has fallen slowly if we look at the last 20 years with the entry of low cost carriers, growth in FIT and so on.

But such a drastic drop in two years can only be explained by two main phenomenon: firstly it seems that the main tour operators have not been able to capture all the new potential clients following the collapse of Thomas Cook (who had roughly 7% of the overall market share of the destinations analized).

And secondly COVID is perhaps pushing some travellers to prefer the flexibility offered by FIT trips booked with low cost carriers and so on.

In conclusion, the tourism sector outlook shows much more variability than ever before, with constant changes becoming the new normal. Our strong advice to Spanish destination tourism boards — or indeed hotels in those destinations — is to adapt to this new tendency when it comes to marketing campaigns and the types of in-destination experiences available.

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