The German travel company Olimar is undeniably one of the key players in opening up Portugal as a holiday destination for German travelers. That's why I delved behind the scenes and attempted to craft a brief narrative about it.
In 1971, founder Werner Zahn seemingly fell head over heels for the country during a trip to northern Portugal. This ignited the idea of introducing Portugal to the German travel industry, thus marking the commencement of OLIMAR's success story. Founded in 1972, OLIMAR orchestrated the inaugural flights to Portugal for Portuguese guest workers – notably prior to the Carnation Revolution of 1974.
As stated on Olimar's homepage, Werner Zahn explored Portugal with his family in 1974. From that point onwards, Portugal became the annual destination for the Zahn family. This signified the initiation of exploring potential destinations within Portugal for German customers. In 1981, Olimar's debut travel catalogue, which centered on Portugal, was published. This enticed an increasing number of Germans to consider Portugal as their preferred destination.
In 1983, the first holiday flights to the Algarve and Lisbon took off. Werner Zahn himself, alongside his family, had previously visited and assessed these destinations before promoting them in the holiday catalogue. This led to the inception of the first package holidays to Portugal. The exceptional dedication of OLIMAR and its founders was acknowledged by the Portuguese government in 2011, with the Order of Merit for Tourism.
OLIMAR has always striven to portray Portugal in a positive light – showcasing unique holiday experiences, exceptional resorts, special offers, and insider tips. As a result, customers and travelers consistently felt embraced and well looked after in Portugal. This was partly attributed to the friendly and courteous nature of the Portuguese people, and companies like Olimar played a pivotal role as well. Placing customers at the heart of their operations, they delivered an authentic holiday experience featuring real people and every element that embodies it – from culture and gastronomy to Portugal's distinct natural beauty.
OLIMAR's Portugal program encompasses various offerings, including hiking tours, golf programs, round trips, city and cultural excursions, alongside carefully selected beach hotels and river journeys along the Douro. Furthermore, OLIMAR significantly contributed to positioning the Portuguese islands and the Cape Verde Islands as popular destinations among German tourists.
OLIMAR stands as the specialist for travel to Portugal within German-speaking countries, especially in Germany. Their repertoire spans from leisurely beach getaways to golfing retreats, and even island hopping – presenting a mosaic of experiences that Portugal has in store for German travelers. Evidently, OLIMAR's focus lies in steering Portugal away from mass tourism and embracing quality tourism instead. This sentiment resonates with Portugal's year-round tourism offerings that prioritize quality over quantity. This philosophy is encapsulated within the company's motto: "Travel Distinctively".
Paulo Lopes is a multi-talent Portuguese citizen who made his Master of Economics in Switzerland and studied law at Lusófona in Lisbon - CEO of Casaiberia in Lisbon and Algarve.