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Summertime atmosphere and ‘Magic Nature’ at the RDA Group Travel Expo 2018 in Cologne

Sunny blue skies and an upbeat atmosphere were much in evidence at this year’s RDA Group Travel Expo 2018 in Cologne on 3rd and 4th July – the largest European trade-only, sales and purchasing...


The top 100 visitor sights and attractions in Ireland

Fáilte Ireland – the Irish National Tourism Development Authority, has published its annual list of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions, which shows that almost all key Irish attractions...


EACT Meeting during RDA Group Travel Expo 2018 in Cologne

The European Alliance for Coach Tourism (EACT) held a well-attended meeting on the morning of Wednesday, 4th July 2018 on the occasion of the RDA Group Travel Expo 2018 in Cologne with...

What does RDA stand for?

The minutes of negotiation of the "Reise-Ring Deutscher Autobusunternehmungen e.V." (German coach companies travel ring) from the 22nd January 1951 record under Point 1 an unanimous decision to establish an association called the "Reise-Ring Deutscher Autobusunternehmungen e.V." which was to be officially registered in the Registry of Clubs and Associations of Wiesbaden District Court.

The minutes record 19 participants at a fairly brief meeting which primarily dealt with formalities. The conclusion of Point 4 notes that there were no more issues for discussion. All but one of the founding members were public bus companies.

The abbreviation RDA was used right from the very beginning. At times, this led to misunderstandings or to wordplays. In France, for instance, "RDA" was often mistaken for "GDR", "Republique Democratique Allemande". Or "Rasen durchs Ausland" (speeding abroad), an allusion to the numerous RDA study tours. Right from the beginning, one of the key tasks of the RDA was to discover new destinations for coach holiday travel. These journeys of discovery were groundbreaking for the industry as a whole.

Combined Coach and Flight Travel

From 1960 attention was paid to increasing competition from air travel. Heinrich Vogel, Publisher of the trade magazine Omnibus-Revue, set the discussion in motion with a lecture on a self-made colour film about a flight trip to Japan and India. In passing, he mentioned that coach and air travel complimented each other and that they should work together. Mr. Vogel had hit the very nerve of the RDA which had already set itself the goal of co-operating within the tourism sector.

New combinations of coach and air travel could be witnessed from then on. An exemplary test was carried out in 1967: RDA members travelled by coach to Bulgaria and flew home by plane. However, the RDA not only travelled throughout Europe but also organised study tours to Egypt, Israel, Brazil, Japan and Australia. This is where even today popular forms of combined air-coach travel were tried and tested - flights to destinations and round tours with coaches.

RDA Annual General Meetings

The RDA Annual General Meetings (AGM) have been held in varying destinations right from the very beginning. In its early years, the RDA family was not only guest in German cities but also especially in Austria and the Netherlands. So far, the most dramatic, stormiest and longest RDA AGM ever was held in 1964 at the Bavarian Kampenwand. A sudden and unexpected storm ensured that participants were not able to return from the mountain to the valley below because the cable cars were swinging in the wind. Only long after midnight was it possible to abseil cabin by cabin.

The AGMs had to be organised, too. Then, as now, this was the job of a board member - a principle that has proven its value over time. In 1956 a renowned Northern German coach operator, Charly Wolters, was elected to the RDA board and was given the task of organising the next AGM. As a skilled hotelier and good host he inspected and tasted the evening buffet. He concluded that there had not been used fresh crab in the crab cocktail. The restaurant manager made a contrary claim. Thereupon, Charly Wolters tossed the crab cocktails from the table and proceeded to lead the back then relatively small RDA Family to another restaurant nearby.

The date at which the term ‘RDA Family’ first appeared is no longer known. The term is documented since 1970 and probably originated during RDA study trips which were always informative and enjoyable occasions. The RDA Family was very large indeed. It did not only include coach travel companies and their service suppliers but also associate RDA members from the coach and tourism industries at large.

Joint Advertising

The idea to initiate joint advertising is one that emerged on numerous occasions but one that always fizzled out fast. What did the Omnibus-Revue have to say about the matter in 1967? 'Coach operators are individualists and difficult to reconcile with each other.' The slogan which was created in 1960 saying "Nimm Urlaub vom Steuer, die Omnibusse sind auch nicht teuer", (Take a holiday from the steering wheel, coach holidays are not expensive) did not manage to establish itself for various reasons.

Der RDA as lobbyist

RDA representatives viewed themselves as lobbyists already since an early stage. In the initial years, as it is still the case today, RDA lobbying focused on the protectionist attitude of the federal German government in favour of the German Railway. It also concerned permissions to pick up passengers and traffic in holiday destinations. The administration suspected hidden public transport and tried to interfere. Even today, the battle against discrimination of coach tourism vis-à-vis other modes of transport is still one of the key tasks of the RDA.


Right from the very beginning, the RDA had a managing director or a CEO who managed and supervised the federation’s day-to-day business. The current RDA CEO, Dieter Gauf, initiated the Day of Coach Tourism at the former International Touristika exhibition in Frankfurt am Main. Current coach tourism relevant themes and issues are discussed in the course of this event. Since 1985, the RDA federation has overtaken the patronage of this highly renowned one-day conference and traditional kick-off event of the year.

RDA-Workshop - now RDA Group Travel Expo

Der RDA-Workshop was first held in 1975 in Grafenau in the Bavarian Forest with a total of 75 exhibitors. A complete ban on alcohol was issued by RDA President Josef Grein during the primary Workshop. The Omnibus-Revue wrote at that time that 'It should be mentioned that the first RDA-Workshop was organised with such perfection that there is hardly any more room for improvement left.' Today the RDA Group Travel Expos are the most important trade-only exhibitions for the international coach tourism sector. Since 1985 it has taken place at the Cologne Trade Fair. Since 2016, there is also a RDA Group Travel Expo taking place in Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance during springtime.


RDA International Coach Tourism Federation
Hohenstaufenring 47-51
D-50674 Cologne
Phone: +49 221 91 27 72 0
Fax: +49 221 91 27 72 27
E-mail: info @rda .de

Information Membership