Data from GfK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, or Society for Consumer Research), the Nuremberg-based market research company, are about the closest thing we have to real-time, relevant data for any major source market. And if the latest sales numbers from GfK are any indication of where the market is going, the tour and travel industry can look forward to a modest but certain increase in business from Germany, which is the largest source market for inbound international visitor traffic from Continental Europe.
Before 2018 ended, retail travel sales figures from Germany’s travel agencies and OTAs—they are based on GfK’s analysis of 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites—the sales figures for November came out, and they showed the following:
GfK figures for German holiday sales in November
—Sales by German travel agencies and OTAs in November could not keep up with the previous year (2017). During the month, overall sales for winter 2018/19 dropped by 1 percent and for next summer by 2 percent, compared to 2017.
—Even so, the German travel trade weekly FVW reported, the current winter season and next summer were still showing solid growth of 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, after good early bookings over the last few months. For example, German consumers had already spent about €3.8 billion ($4.35 billion) on winter holidays, mostly for trips in November and December, GfK pointed out.
—More than half (57 percent) of the November sales revenues were for summer 2019 holidays, with June proving a very strong month: revenues up by nearly 18 percent. In fact, all months except for May showed growth compared to the same time last year.
—FVW reported that the upbeat outlook for 2019 has been reinforced by new figures from the German Tourism Industry Association (BTW). Germans traveled for leisure purposes on 1.7 billion days thus far in 2018, which was 1.8 percent more than 2017, according to the organization, which relies on GfK consumer spending surveys.
—Against this background and with stable macro-economic conditions, the BTW predicted another good year for German leisure travel in 2019, with a similar growth rate of about 1.7 percent in terms of the number of days spent on leisure travel, ranging from day-trips and short breaks to long holidays.
The GfK analysis seems to sync with what the most recent forecast from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office had to say about the outlook for Germany, projecting that visitation from the market will increase 2 percent in 2019.
Said BTW President Michael Frenzel, “We are looking ahead very confidently to the 2019 travel year.”