The German outbound market to Turkey and elsewhere in the region has been hemorrhaging since Jan. 12—that’s when an ISIS-backed suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square—and Europe’s major tour operators seem to be re-routing the summer 2016 itineraries of clients who had booked trips to the region. Whether it will have any impact on Visit USA traffic seems to be a matter of conjecture, and the tour and travel trade will probably have to wait to conduct its own colloquy on the matter next month (March 9-13) at ITB in Berlin before a consensus emerges.
“Honestly we don’t know yet if Germans will choose the U.S. as an alternate destination to Egypt, Turkey, North Africa or will stay in Europe,” Jeff Karnes, executive vice president of New World Travel, who is based in Los Angeles, told the Inbound Report. “The U.S. is certainly losing MICE business to European destinations like Barcelona, Rome and Paris this year and next.”
Karnes, whose company specializes in the German market, added, “there are so many factors coloring the German’s travel decisions right now from currency value, security, consumer confidence that the jury is still out. We should have a much better picture in April.”
“Yes, I do think that it has some kind of impact,” Timo Kohlenberg, president and CEO of America Unlimited, told us. “Lots of regions in Europe/short haul are not safe at the moment, such as Turkey or Egypt. The U.S. is the number one long haul destination for Germans, so lots of them will travel abroad.”
“I cannot estimate by how much this will actually influence the numbers,” added Kohlenberg, whose company is based in Hannover, Germany, “but we are around 15 percent up in 2016 at the moment.”
Peter van Berkel, president of Travalco, a receptive tour operator based in Florida, had a different take. “Long haul (USA) substitution of short/medium haul product is a stretch,” he explained.
“Passenger expectations and price points of charter based single resort based trips like in Turkey and North Africa are not very compatible with high mobility multi destination type of travel and associated cost we see here into the USA. Impact will be very limited as a direct substitution; there can be however a slight positive bump if the current concerns result into accelerating pre considered USA trips for 2017 or beyond into 2016.”
Meanwhile, the TUI Group (It controls 16.9 percent of the German market, according to a recent study) reported on Feb. 9 that it had already experienced a 40 percent drop in bookings to Turkey this summer due to safety concerns and said it “was investing in Cape Verde and Bulgaria as alternatives to security-threatened North Africa.” Earlier, it was reported that several operators— DER Touristik (12.4 percent), Alltours (8.1 percent) and FTI (5.6 percent)—had offered a free re-booking option to those who had already booked for Turkey.