Czech and Polish tour operator marriage promises major changes on local market

Photo: Jan Rosenauer, Czech Radio

The marriage of Czech and Polish tour operators Čedok and Itaka looks like creating a formidable negotiating force on the regional market faced with airline operators and hotel companies.

Photo: Jan Rosenauer, Czech Radio
An established brand name with almost 100 years of tradition and a brash newcomer. That could well sum up the situation of well known Czech tour operator Čedok and its new owner, Polish company Itaka.

Čedok’s history goes back to 1920 but it has been overtaken on the Czech market by rivals. By some estimates it now rates as the country’s fourth biggest tour operator. Itaka was created in 1989 and from around 2009 has established itself as number one on the much larger Polish market.

Financial details of the takeover, with Čedok’s former owner US-based Odien Group is stepping out of the tour operator market altogether to focus on hotels and resorts, have not been made public. The deal still needs to be approved by the Czech competition agency.

Photo: ŠJů, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last year, Čedok sold holidays to 400,000 customers with turnover reaching around 2.0 billion crowns. According to the business daily E15, its loss widened last year to 181 million crowns from 7.0 million in 2014. Itaka’s turnover is around five times higher, at around 10.5 million crowns.

Čedok managers have in the recent past blamed some of their recent misfortunes on losses associated with some of their choice tourist destinations being blighted by the immigrant crisis and terrorist attacks.

Radek Drechsler, photo: Archive of Radek Drechsler
And the ownership switch promises some drastic changes according to Čedok’s general manager, Radek Drechsler. He says the combination of Itaka’s and Čedok’s purchasing power with hotels and airlines should certainly be felt with Čedok’s future holiday offers likely to be cheaper. The impact will probably not be felt in in the upcoming Winter offers but beyond that to the next Summer season.

Čedok’s policy of serving exotic destinations with smaller passenger planes looks like being one of the early casualties of the change. The tour operator was in this case, and for that matter often in the past, left trying to put bums on seats with packages that were a relatively hard sell for the relatively weak Czech market. With more success, Itaka has made serving the luxury market on its hallmarks and successes.

Photo: Czech Radio - Radio Prague
Drechsler says the overall offer to Polish and Czech tourists is broadly similar with both often opting for all-in packages and hotels close to the beach. Favourite destinations for both are Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Italy.