As the world’s largest travel trade show, ITB which takes place this week (March 9-13) in Berlin is the one venue at which the global tour and travel industry gets to take its own temperature. The business conversations and information exchanges at the late winter/early spring event gives one a basis for making a fair determination as to how the upcoming summer travel season will perform, how interest is shaping up for 2016-17 winter holidays and what new products are hot for 2017.
And if the talk in the host nation is any indication of trend lines, it suggests that Germans, as well as consumers in other key European source markets, are hesitant in their travel plans and intentions. A collection of survey and poll results, as reported in the German travel trade publication, FVW, tells us the following.
—Last year, Germans took fewer holidays last year for the first time since 2010 and there could be a further downturn this year, according to the annual Tourism Analysis by the Hamburg-based research organization Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen (“Foundation for Future Studies”)
—The study (based on a nationwide survey of 4,000 adults by the Hannover-based research firm GfK) said that, in 2015, only 54 percent of Germans took a holiday of five days or more, compared to 57 percent in 2014 and 2013.
—The proportion of people over 55 who took a five-day holiday dropped by six percentage points to 48 percent but the number of 35-54 year-olds who went on a five-day trip increased by two percentage points to 61 percent.
—The outlook for 2016 is no better. Asked about their travel plans for this year, 21 percent said they are not making any travel plans at all. This is two percentage points more than last year.
—The number of undecided consumers was put at 37 percent.
—However, the average length of a trip actually increased in 2015, for the first time in many years and after a steady reduction over the last decade—the average holiday was 12.6 days last year compared to 12.1 days in 2014.
—In terms of destinations, Germany retained top spot in 2015. Among foreign destinations, Spain remained number one ahead of Italy, Turkey, Austria and France. Asia was the top long-haul destination region, followed by North America and North Africa.
—The average holiday cost for Germans on holiday last year increased to €1,109 ($1,219) per person from €1,071 ($1,171) in 2014.
—According to Ulrich Reinhardt, scientific head of the foundation, “many Germans don’t want to cut their holidays any more. Instead they are saving on transportation or accommodation costs and are spending less at the destination, rather than having less time there.”
2016 ITB action is underway. At the Georgia booth as the event opens are (left-to-right): Mindy Shea, director of international sales, Visit Savannah; Tracy Vaughan, director of international accounts, Georgia Tourism; Dennis Kemp, regional sales manager, Georgia Aquarium; Peter Hannaford, UK representative, Georgia Tourism; Brandon Barnes, director of international sales, Atlanta CVB; and Anja Hoebler, Germany representative, Georgia Tourism.
—According to analysis by data analysts for the Trevo Trend of customer inquiries in German travel agencies and on booking portals in the week of February 11-17 for holidays up to mid-September—interest in holidays is higher than it was at the same time last year,
—But this interest is not being converted into bookings. In January, sales revenues “went red,” declining by 12 percent year-on-year, according to GfK.
—The low booking trend is especially evident (in figures for the past three months from the Holidaycheck website) for Tunisia (63 percent less traffic and 47 percent fewer bookings, Egypt (down 30 percent) and Tunisia, but bookings for Bulgaria up (+72 percent); and Spain and Portugal are up by 40 percent.