A recent caption in the German travel trade publication FVW aptly described the travel business climate in the country: “Gloomy holiday bookings matched the wet weather in Germany last month.” As such, the business climate as the peak summer season closes out seems to have realized the forecast that most receptive tour operators and German tour operators offered up just before spring—that it would be flat—at the ITB trade show in Berlin. Some new data highlights:
—Leisure travel sales by German travel agents were 5 percent lower in July than last year, according to the monthly survey of 1,200 travel agencies by the Nuremberg-based market research firm GfK.
—As a result, cumulated sales for the summer 2016 season were 8 percent lower than last year.
There was no hoped-for surge of last-minute bookings, as the proportion of holiday bookings with departures in July or August was 27.1 percent, which was well behind last year’s figure of 31.3 percent.
—The main factor for the overall figures, according to GfK, is the slump in bookings for Turkey. This is underlined by the latest figures from reservations provider Traveltainment for German package holiday bookings to leading destination airports. Bookings to Antalya dropped by 46 percent in July compared to one year earlier.
The figures for Turkey were, however, no surprise. Outbound travel to the country from Germany came to a virtual halt earlier this year following January 12 when, in Istanbul, an ISIS-backed suicide bomber killed 10 people—eight of them Germans—and wounded 15 others, many of them German.
Then there was March 22, when there was a series of three terrorist bombings in Brussels, Belgium, just 140 miles from Cologne, that killed 32 people and injured more than 300. Following this episode, many Germans seemed to opt for vacationing in their own country.
The sluggishness of the overall travel industry’s performance is reflected in the figures recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office which showed that, for the first quarter of 2016, arrivals to the United States from Germany dropped three percent for the same period in 2015.