This week’s ITB—the world’s largest travel show—in Berlin takes place just as the news comes that the nation’s consumer confidence in the economy is high and as the German travel trade is registering bullish numbers for the summer travel season. Travelers from Germany comprise the USA’s largest overseas source market in continental Europe and ITB historically has served as a barometer on how the tour and travel industry in Germany and, to a great extent, in the Eurozone will perform in the coming year.
- First, from the research firm GfK comes the news that that consumer confidence in Germany could reach a level of 9.7 in March, up from February’s 9.3 rating. If so, this would be the highest reading in more than 13 years—since it reached the 11.0 mark in October 2001.
A GfK statement on the numbers said, “Despite the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine and uncertainty as to whether Greece will remain in the Eurozone, Germans remain confident that their economy is clearly on course for growth.” However, acknowledging that other factors in the global economy must be considered, the firm said that, “If developments in these areas cause uncertainty among German consumers, this will also have a severe impact on the consumer mood and therefore also consumption.”
- Second, Deutscher ReiseVerband (DRV)—the German Travel Association—reported Feb. 26 that bookings for summer holidays this year increased about five percent, year-over-year, in January, with DRV President Norbert Fiebig observing, “We expect further growth at a high level for the whole tourism year.”
DRV pointed out that, for the 2013-14 year that ended last October, the German tourism market once again hit record levels—Germany is the only European market that did not decline in the immediate wake of the 2008-09 global economic recession—with tour operators increasing their combined revenues by nearly 4 percent to €26.3 billion ($29.4 billion), which was about €1 billion ($1.2 billion) more revenues than in 2012/13. Growth was driven by cruises and demand for higher-value and higher-priced holidays. And while revenues grew by almost 4 percent, the number of customers increased by 2.5 percent, indicating that there was an increase in average prizes.
(Just before ITB was to open, ITB officials indicated that more than 110,000 trade visitors were expected at the event, held annually at the 1.7 million square-foot Messe Berlin convention center complex.)