Nor is Germany. But, then, nothing is what it used to be after COVID-19 and 2020. Travel trade journalists and publications alike used to look forward each year to the approach of ITB—it took place during the second week of March—as the time of the year that they would receive numerous research studies and reports with the latest analyses of the condition of the industry. Also, by this time each February, we had our Berlin itineraries set and were looking forward to face time with as many people as possible during appointments, social functions and ad hoc meetings or conversations.
Oh, we all had plans and calendars, but knowing how way leads on to way, we were always prepared for those ad hoc meetings or conversations—made all the likelier by the sheer volume of humans who attended the event at Messe Berlin. In 2019, there were—officially—1,000 buyers and 10,000 exhibitors from 180 countries spread out over six continents. Officially, there were more than 113,500 trade visitors. All totaled, there were 169,000 visitors.
Then came last year and the crisis wrought by COIVD-19. Officials waited as long as they were able to before canceling the event. This year, there was never any doubt about ITB. It is being held March 9-12, but it is an entirely virtual event. As such, there was no hesitation about shutting down as there was last year. However, the reports, analyses and outlooks are being e-released.
A Recovery by Next Year: Because one report, in particular, came from ITB Berlin NOW and Statista, the official voices of the event, their review receives especial interest. Briefly, here is what it had say.
—“It was a turbulent year in travel.” And despite 2020’s massive decline, the report tells us, there are signs of a market recovery by 2023. The ITB Berlin NOW and Statista tell us such in their recently released review of 2020 and in their outlook for the coming years—the Mobility Market Outlook (MMO), released by Statista, a research organization headquartered in Hamburg, with offices in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and other major global centers.
—The worldwide travel and tourism market is set to recover fully from the coronavirus pandemic by 2023 and achieve record turnover figures. The MMO tells us that the global travel and tourism revenue for 2021 is forecasted to increase by over 50 percent compared to 2020. New revenue records can be expected from 2023 onwards. In fact, for 2025 the MMO predicts a revenue growth of almost 23 percent versus the success year of 2019.
—Statista projects a 55 percent loss of sales in the tourism industry for 2020. in October 2020, year-on-year international tourism arrivals fell by 72 percent.
—For Germany, the data are just as beleaguering: according to Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV), the industry registered a 28 billion euro decline (80 percent) in turnover in 2020.
—According to a November 2020 survey by the DIHK (German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce) 94 percent of companies in the German travel sector expected a turnover decline in 2020. No other industry has registered such high losses and, as a result, the tourism industry has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
—Looking back on travel in 2020, the tourism industry has been heavily impacted by the restrictions put in place by national governments due to the pandemic. Various statistics show that those months, in which strict measures were issued to contain its spread, were particularly challenging for the tourism sector. According to UNTWO figures, hotel bookings in Germany declined considerably during spring and autumn – in April German hotels registered a year-on-year drop in visitors of 91 percent.
—Long-haul leisure travel suffered. This was reflected in destination preferences. According to a representative survey by Allianz Partners, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 22 percent of German citizens favored long-haul destinations, compared with 6 percent after the pandemic began. By contrast, the percentage of respondents preferring “staycations” more than doubled, rising from 30% to 61%. (Google search requests for “vacation/Germany” tripled in late May, compared to the same period the year before.)
—In 2019 domestic tourism accounted for close to 259 billion euros ($314 billion), 85 percent of Germany’s domestic tourism revenues, whereas for 2020 the share is projected to be 91 percent (approximately 173 billion euros or $210 billion). Accordingly, turnover in Germany’s international tourism market is forecast to shrink by over 60 percent, from approximately 45 billion ($55 billion) to around 16 billion euros. At the same time domestic tourism is expected to recover as early as 2022, with turnover reaching 2019 levels.
—Both industry experts and large travel companies expect the market to recover rapidly. The tour operator TUI (It is the largest tour operator in Europe) recently declared that travel in summer 2021 would be “normal”. Due to constantly changing circumstances (e.g., how vaccination progresses, lockdown periods, and closed borders), experts’ forecasts must be treated with caution and regularly re-assessed in line with current developments. Nevertheless, it is expected that people will have a desire to catch up on the last few months of missed travel experiences as soon as possible.
—Tech trends should benefit tourism. Trends that are likely to take off in the tourism industry in the near future are becoming apparent. Analysts at Statista forecast that technological innovations in particular will have a positive impact on the industry, e.g., AI-based, personalized services and innovative forms of presenting tourism services with VR. Thus, the current low volume of travel together with technological innovations could spur a rapid recovery of the industry.