Even before vaccine became a reality, Germans expressed satisfaction in upcoming summer season—in spite of COVID-19—registering an increase in travel attention abroad for the next 12 months.
For the second time this year, and before the COVID-19 vaccine became reality on Dec. 8, ITB Berlin and the international consultancy IPK International, which specialize in tourism analysis and research, conducted a special survey on international travel behavior in the era of COVID-19. The study’s evaluation of the German market revealed some intriguing developments. Highlights of the report’s findings follow.
• In this year’s summer months—although the numbers were woefully week—Germans traveled abroad more than the average.
—Both travel destinations and tourism products and experiences improved their safety image in the last four months.
—Around one third of German outbound travelers went on a trip abroad during the summer months June to August despite COVID-19. This pegs Germans at well above the European average. With 22 percent vs. a global average of 19 percent.
—Some 60 percent of Germans traveled to a neighboring country. For 63 percent the automobile was by far the most popular mode of transport, followed by air with 25 percent and rail with 12 percent.
• There was high satisfaction with international travel. Asked about their experience of traveling abroad in the time of COVID-19, two-thirds (66 percent) of Germans said it was “better than expected.” Another 27 percent considered their trip “as expected” and only seven percent were less satisfied with their trip under conditions that sometimes included lock-downs and a limited number of countries where Germans could travel.
• Positive travel experiences despite COVID-19 were not only enjoyed by Germans, but also by European outbound travelers in general. However, travel satisfaction was somewhat lower among Asians and Americans.
• Traveling cheaper during the global pandemic is not an option. In recent months, it is well-known that the pandemic has led to certain changes in travel behavior among German outbound travelers, whether in terms of choice of transportation, accommodation or type of holiday. Interestingly, however, for the great majority, traveling less expensively during the time of COVID-19 in is not an option.
• Increasing travel intentions for the next 12 months. The intention of Germans to travel abroad in the next 12 months has again increased by six percent compared to the ITB/IPK survey conducted in June this year and is again above the European and global average. In particular, those who said in June that traveling abroad would not be an option, are successively returning to the circle of people willing to travel.
• Tendency towards destinations within Europe continues. Just as the June survey concluded, Germans preferred travel destinations within Europe during the pandemic. Spain has been the most popular destination for Germans, followed by Italy and Austria.
• Destinations within Europe have been able to either maintain or even expand their potential in the last four months. In contrast, interest in destinations outside Europe is still well below average and has barely recovered in recent months. One reason for this are the restrictions such as entry and exit regulations for countries.
• Safety image for destinations and tourist offers has improved. As it did in June, IPK International asked about the COVID-19 infection risk with regard to travel destinations and tourism offerings. From a German traveler’s view, the risk has improved compared to the beginning of June due to the various measures that travel suppliers have taken. The majority of the destinations were able to achieve better values in terms of their safety image and the COVID-19 risk in relation to the offer such as transport, accommodation, types of holiday or activities is also rated slightly better than four months ago. The improved safety image combined with positive travel experiences in recent months is also leading to an increased intention to travel in the upcoming months.
• Attitude towards air travel slightly more positive. Germans are showing a somewhat positive trend with regard to air travel. A reserved attitude towards air travel has decreased slightly compared to the June survey. Even so, the majority is still uncertain how risky air travel is. In general, the fear of flying under COVID-19 conditions is lower among Europeans than among Americans and especially among Asians.
• High security standards are key requirements. High security standards resulting in an increase of personal safety are still of central importance for travelers. According to the latest survey results, measures to reduce the risk of infection have not lost any of their importance compared to four months ago. Besides maintaining minimum distances, wearing mouth and nose protection and complying with general hygiene regulations, Germans also value mandatory COVID-19 tests upon returning from a risk area.
• Looking ahead to the next 12 months. The general willingness to travel abroad in the next 12 months is particularly high among Europeans and especially among Germans. High safety standards concerning the offer and a positive safety image regarding the destinations influence the travel decision. The rising interest to travel abroad, however, is still faced by travel restrictions. With the availability of a vaccine, a successively lifting of the restrictions is to be expected. According to the latest survey results, travel would then start to increase rapidly and on a widespread base.
To secure a copy of the complete results of the 18-country IPK study, visit the IPK website. Price of the study starts at 3,400 euros ($4,100+)