Given the impact of the a Euro that weakened over the past two years—the currency fell by more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar—attendance at, and overall interest in North America at the recently concluded ITB trade show in Berlin seemed counterintuitively high this year. While the Inbound Report did not attend this year’s, our conversations with receptive tour operators, as well as with U.S. travel suppliers and destinations indicated that American suppliers were mildly surprised by the enthusiastic feedback they received—the devalued exchange rate environment notwithstanding. It appeared the several planets in the marketing universe were aligning in the right way to provide an unexpected tailwind for inbound tourism this year. From our reports:
—Historically popular Middle East destinations among Europeans—places such as Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia—are deemed unsafe for travel, resulting in several million German and UK vacationers having been dispersed to other locations. And, despite the recent ISIS-inspired shootings a little more than three months ago in San Bernardino, California, America is remains a safe destination by most travelers.
—German vacationers, who are largely repeaters, have now had two years to become inured to the more expensive dollar both psychologically and practically; buyers at ITB were eager to find ways to modify their offerings and were seeking less expensive North American destinations or revising their itineraries with shorter stays and less costly lodging properties
—Destinations near and around cities where corporate business has driven hotel rates sky high—San Francisco, New York, Miami, Chicago, even Seattle– have operators open to working with surrounding cities that offer a fresh approach to the itinerary at a lower rate.
—Brand USA’s marketing efforts with a consortium of rep groups has resulted in keeping America top-of-mind with the German consumer in a way that keeps us relevant. As well, traditionally adventuresome Germans are also responding positively to this year’s Centennial of U.S. National Parks.