—There was a 9 percent year-on-year decline in bookings for January 2016
—There was a fall-off of 2 percent, year-on-year, in bookings for February 2016.
—And then there was a sharp 11 percent decline, year-on-year, in overall sales revenues last month with poor summer bookings and very low late winter sales.
The data are not in question, as they come from the reliable monthly survey conducted by the highly respected Nuremberg-based market research firm GfK. What is in question is the impression that many in the tour and travel industry had when they attended ITB last month (March 9-13) in Berlin. Operators who sold U.S. product seemed to think that there was still hope for a rebound—primarily because the USA was deemed a safe destination, especially in the wake of January 12th, when in Istanbul an ISIS-backed suicide bomber killed 10 people—eight of them Germans—and wounded 15 others, many of them German. This might lead to a shift in more Visit USA business.
Then came March 22, when there was a series of three terrorist bombings in Brussels, Belgium, just 140 miles from Cologne, that killed 32 people and injured more than 300. Following the latest report from GfK, the German travel trade publication FVW said, “Hopes of a post-ITB upturn in the German tourism market have been dashed by figures showing an 11 percent decline in package holiday bookings last month.”
It seems clear that the 11 percent decline is linked to anxiety caused by the events of March 22nd. Travel to Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa has tanked and operators have cut capacity to those destinations. Overall travel bookings for this summer, except for a 1.8 percent increase in July, were down last month—by 7 percent, with the peak holiday month of August down by a dramatic 20 percent.
And according to a new Travelzoo survey of 1,000 online consumers in Germany:
—One tenth of German travelers fear another terror attack in a holiday destination.
—Nearly one in three wants to avoid “endangered European cities” in the foreseeable future.
—More than half (53 percent) of those who have not yet booked said they wanted to book spontaneously.
—Forty percent said they planned to go on holiday within Germany.
—Thirty-five percent plan to select their destination based on security issues.