U.S. travel and tourism industry professionals who sell to the German market must be confused. Despite statistical as well as anecdotal references over the past month that might cause some receptive tour operators and travel sellers to cut back on their available offerings, in Germany itself, the country’s largest tour operator has increased Visit USA capacity for 2017, and air service between Germany is on track to increase.
While the Inbound Report has no special insight to suggest which of the views on the outlook for Germany is correct, we can present this brief summary of the gloomy and rosy views of what to expect next year for the fourth largest overseas country source market for visitors to the United States.
The Gloomy View
—In its current, posted long-term forecast for international arrivals to the USA, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office has projected that 2016 will end with a three percent decline in arrivals from Germany compared to 2015. Its outlook then calls for mere one percent annual increases through 2019.
—Germany’s travel trade news media have been consistent in their reporting of accounts on the part of tour and travel industry leaders that are—while not dire—are less than sanguine about prospects for an increase in Visit USA business.
—There seems to be a consensus opinion among market experts that, because of the antipathy toward President-elect Donald Trump expressed by many Germans, a number of German travelers will simply cancel bookings to travel to the USA and/or change their travel plans for 2017 to take their holidays elsewhere.
—Overall, the retail travel trade in Germany is coming off a 12-month window that the market research organization GfK has described as a “lost year” for business. And its report that early bookings for summer travel for 2017 were up by one percent are little solace when one notes that a one percent increase over a terrible year is still below the pace for a normal year.
The Rosy View
Airlines must believe that the traffic will be there. In recent months, there have been the following announcements:
-Lufthansa‘s budget airline Eurowings will launch flights with its fourth A330 from Cologne/Bonn to Orlando and Seattle starting next July. There will be twice-weekly services to Orlando and three flights a week to Seattle.
–Other Eurowings USA destinations for next summer will include Boston, Las Vegas and Miami.
–Condor will add another Pittsburgh to its U.S. destinations next June with twice-weekly flights from Frankfurt. This news followed announcements earlier in the year in which the airline said it would begin service to San Diego and New Orleans.
-Delta Air Lines will expand its Germany flights to eight daily next summer with the start of seasonal summer flights from Detroit to Munich next May 2017.
In addition to increased air service between German and the USA, Tui—the Europe’s largest tour operator and largest purveyor of USA product to German travel agents and consumers—has added to its Visit USA inventory. For its summer program 2017 Tui has added some 200 new hotels and 30 round trips. In New York, there is now a dedicated service center right on Times Square, where guests are cared for two days a week.
And then there is the view among some travel trade professionals that schadenfreude might bring to the USA some visitors from Germany who are skittish about traveling to the once popular destinations of Turkey, northern Africa or elsewhere in Europe because of fears triggered by terrorist attacks in those areas. For, despite the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States is still regarded as a safe destination.
In the tour and travel industry, no one really has the final word on whether the outlook for Visit USA business from Germany is truly rosy or truly gloomy until travel arrangements have been booked. But we will have a better idea of what the travel trade in Germany believes it will be this month as the major and mid-sized tour operators have their year-end financial reviews with reporters and business analysts.