Ever since the U.S. government announced last October that—effective, Nov. 8, 2021— it was lifting restrictions on inbound international travel from the EU, UK and other key markets, tour operators and the travel trade as a whole have demonstrated that they were as ready as any component of the industry in its ability to re-start the marketing and promotion of the Visit USA product.
In order to check the pulse of how the industry was doing, the travel trade media somehow managed to conduct the same monthly surveys of travel retailers (even if there wasn’t much to sell) and be ready for the distribution channels to operate in a way that resembles normalcy once travel returned to regular levels. It must have worked because, of all overseas markets who sell the U.S., Germany ranks No. 3 in traffic to the USA for the first six months of 2022.
While no one in the travel trade in Germany is guilty of over-optimism, one still detects a certain kind of confidence that sales levels and passenger traffic to North America from Germany could reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. At least, this is the sense one gets in reading the account of the recent conversation between Matthew Gurtler of the German travel trade journal Touristik Aktuell, and Dr. Ingo Burmester, CEO of Der Touristik, the No. 2 travel company in Germany. The interview took place at Der Touristik’s Frankfurt headquarters.
Following is selection of some of the points that came up during their discussion. (Caution, the account relied on a Google translation.)
- For now, said Burmester, three major trends are already emerging: first, “rediscovery” of long-distance travel; second, the dominance of sunny destinations—even for long-term stays—and third, the continuing “great desire for flexibility.”
- The desire of Germans to travel is unabated and will give the industry a strong winter. Germany’s second largest travel group, DER Touristik, is convinced of this. In any case, CEO Ingo Burmester is optimistic about the cold weather season for his brands Dertour, Jahn Reisen, ITS and Meiers Weltreisen.
- Long-distance routes account for around 60 percent of all bookings for the winter, Burmester explained. This corresponds to the usual booking situation before the pandemic and confirms “the new normality that we have been seeing since the beginning of summer.”
- Even on medium-haul routes, the desired destinations of Germans do not differ from those of the pre-COVED times: the Canary Islands, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.
- “People can’t get enough of sun and sea and the easy holiday feeling that beach destinations give them,” said Burmester. There is a great need, “that summer-sun-carefree feeling in winter, too, to preserve.”
- —DER Touristik, Burmester said, also has its sights set on affluent best agers* who want to reduce their heating costs and boost that holiday feeling. There are a number of long-term offers for them, some of which can be combined with other discounts such as early bird discounts and 55-plus discounts.
* Persons aged between 49-80 years old. It is said that 40 percent of the German population are older than 49 years of age.
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Retail Tally for July 2022 vs 2021 & 2019
The current key figures are from the German travel industry through Frankfurt-based ta.ts.
The overall totals show that the retail industry’s business have greatly improved—especially when measured against 2020 and 2021, both of which suffered from the pandemic. The numbers are still down against 2019 which, however, was a record year for more than half of the Top 20 overseas source markets for Visit USA traffic. Next year just might be a year when business returns to normalcy. Meanwhile, the numbers.
- The invoiced total turnover of the travel agencies recorded in the “ta.ts Reisebürospiegel” (or ta.ts travel agency mirror) was up 131.2 percent last month compared to the same month in 2021, and it was down 18.3 percent compared to July 2019.
- The invoiced tourism turnover in July showed an increase of 112.4 percent compared to 2021. Compared to July 2019, the invoiced tourism turnover was down 14.1 percent.
Air traffic revenue for the month was up 173.8 percent vs. 2021. As of July 2019, air traffic revenue was down 23.5 percent.
- Other sales were up 92.1 percent in July 2022 vs. 2021 and down 14.9 percent vs. 2019.
- The number of tickets was up 69.9 percent compared to July 2021 and down 47.6 percent compared to July 2019.
- Revenue from the tourism sub-division cruises was up 249.4 percent in July compared to 2021 and down 23.5 percent compared to July 2019.
- Cumulatively, the total invoiced travel agency turnover in the months from January to July is up 295.1 percent compared to 2021. For the period January to July vs. 2019, the cumulative invoiced travel agency turnover was minus 30.3 percent.
- Tourism recorded an increase of 318.5 percent compared to 2021 and minus 27.0 percent compared to 2019.
- Air traffic recorded an increase of 317.0 percent vs. 2021 and compared to 2019 a decrease of 34.8 percent.
- Other sales showed an increase of 186.4 percent compared to 2021 and a minus 19.1 percent compared to 2019.
- The number of tickets had an increase of 226.8 percent compared to 2021 and minus 47.9 percent compared to 2019.
- The cruise sub-sector shows a cumulative increase of 402.7 percent compared to 2021 or a minus of 33.3 percent compared to 2019