It’s not all about the strong dollar vs. the weak euro. The latest monthly report from GfK, the Nuernberg-based research organization that surveys 1,200 travel agencies in Germany on a regular basis, contained some more news on business activity that, while not discouraging, is not encouraging, either. Worse, when one steps back to put the current, sluggish news, in a broader context, the outlook for any meaningful growth in the number of visitors from Germany to the U.S. is gray for as far as the statistical horizon stretches: In its most recent long-term forecast (through 2020), the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) projects that inbound traffic from German will remain at about the same in 2015 as it was in 2014. And then it won’t increase more than 2 percent in any year between now and 2020.
But beyond that, there are factors—not the kind that NTTO configures into its forecast—suggesting that the long term outlook is even less encouraging: Specifically, Germany is already the oldest country in Europe and has little chance of becoming younger in the near term, as it now has the lowest birth rate of any major nation in the world. That means fewer workers to replace the German workers now in their prime who will grow older, and then fewer people to replace those now in the prime travel-age demographic who will grow out of it.
First, the latest snapshot: The latest news is that overall sales revenues for German travel agents declined by 3.1 percent in August, following an overall decline of one percent in July. Also, there was no last-minute “sales boom” this year as there was in 2014. Revenues from late sales of summer holidays fell by as much as 8.3 percent last month, said GfK.
Second, the long view: Information that has been released from different sources over the past year, when taken as a whole, comprises the long-term bad news. A study published by the German auditing firm BDO with the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) says Germany’s birth rate has slumped to the lowest in the world. It has dropped below Japan to have not just the lowest birth rate across Europe but also globally, according to the report. In Germany, an average of 8.2 children were born per 1,000 inhabitants over the past five years, according to the study. It said Japan saw 8.4 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the same time period.
Right now, the median age—half the population of this nation of 81 million people is older than the median and half is younger—is 46. Of all the nations in the world, only Monaco (population, 36,371 in 2011) has a higher median age (51). Here’s how the German population breaks out into age categories.
Breakdown of Population of Germany, USA, by Age Group
|65 years and older||21.10%||14.40%|
|Year||Arrivals||% Change over Previous Year|
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, National Travel and Tourism Office