The pandemic-weary German traveler and the travel trade that serves the traveler seem to be ready to take a holiday of any kind—within Germany or Europe, or even overseas—but the same traveler is cautious and tentative.
Why? Because the latest news accounts show that about 72 percent of Germans have been double-vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. However, new cases of the virus—now in a fourth surge in the country—continue to be reported at near-record levels.
Midst this environment, Martin Lohmann, a leading expert analyst of the German tourism industry—he has headed up NIT (New Insights for Tourism) for more than 30 years and is also the scientific advisor to the Research Association for Holidays and Travel (FUR), said in an account reported by the German travel trade publication Turistik Actuell, “We see an enormous desire for vacation.”
Dr. Lohmann—he’s a psychologist—notes that the indicators for tourism demand in 2022 show a “positive starting position,” and that Germans are more optimistic than they were a year ago. “The individual economic situation, which is generally perceived as stable, is an important prerequisite for holiday tourism in 2022,” he explained, noting that the desire to go on holiday is at an all-time high at 61 percent (last year at this point it was 51 percent), and the factors of time (72 percent) and money (70 percent) for travel are also rated more favorably than ever before.
Although Lohmann described what he calls “excellent conditions on the customer side,” he suggested that we should see lower demand compared to the pre-COVID year of 2019.
He explained that regulations and restrictions continue to influence the accessibility and capacities of tourist offers and thus the volume of holiday trips and their design. Also, changing regulations mean that many people who want to travel have to wait and see when planning and booking their trip.
A slightly different perspective of Lohmann’s view is in a recent survey by Mintel. It tells us the German travelers are somewhat reticent about booking summer beach vacations: “Only 10 percent of Germans have so far booked a holiday for 2022, a consumer survey conducted online between December 6-21, 2021, showed. A relatively high 41 percent of those surveyed said that they do not want to plan a holiday during this year. Another 29 percent are still unsure for what period they want to book in 2022, according to the survey.” (More details on Mintel survey here.)
Overall, a volume of 60 million holiday trips by the German-speaking population can be expected, Lohmann says, with a still high proportion of destinations in Germany and in neighboring countries and a relatively small proportion of air travel compared to 2019. Compared to 2020/2021, Lohmann emphasizes, this still means a step towards normalization to the situation before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, according to the trend researcher.
Putting it in perspective—travel is at a 35-Year Low: According to FUR, International tourism fell by more than 70 percent in 2021 compared to 2019. With 351 million arrivals of international guests (compared to 1.46 billion in 2019), “the volume of international tourism is roughly at the level of 1987”.
Citing provisional data based on online travel analysis from the end of 2021, Lohmann expects a low level of demand with a volume of around 50 million vacation trips for German vacation trips. This roughly corresponds to the level of the previous year, 2020.
Back to Normal in 2023? Lohmann’s take on the future assumes that the pandemic will only play a temporary role as a direct driver for the development of demand. Provided that “dealing with the pandemic allows social life to be as usual again, holiday travel behavior will return to the development path expected without a pandemic from 2023.”
Yes, 2021 was a very bad year: The latest ta.ts (Travel Agency Technologies & Services) travel agency mirror monthly report, which contain data for both December 2021 figures, as well as full-year data for 2021 show what the retail side channel of revenue already new, which is that, compared to 2019 (before the global pandemic), it was a very bad year.
Below, segment-by-segment, the sales data for German travel agencies also show that, as terrible as 2021 was, the month-to-month sales of agencies were improving toward the end of the year, and just might mirror stronger activity, year-on-year for Q2 and Q3 of 2022.
ta.ts travel agency mirror
Invoiced values December 2021 vs. 2020 & 2019
—The total invoiced turnover of the travel agencies recorded in the “ta.ts travel agency mirror” in December 2021 is plus 221.3 percent compared to the same month in 2020.
—Compared to December 2019, the total invoiced sales were -53.5 percent.
—Billed tourism turnover in December shows an increase of 424.1 percent compared to 2020.
— Compared to December 2019, the billed tourism turnover was -49.6 percent.
—The turnover in air traffic recorded for the month showed an increase of 179.8 percent compared to 2020.
—Against December 2019, the turnover in air traffic showed a decrease of -67.9 percent.
—The “other” sales in December 2021 vs. 2020 were +118.4 percent and -15.7 percent vs. 2019.
—The number of tickets was +161.4 percent compared to December 2020 and -71.3 percent compared to December 2019.
—Revenue from the tourism sub-division of cruises was up 393.1 percent in December compared to 2020, and -42.8 percent compared with December 2019.
—Viewed cumulatively, the total invoiced travel agency turnover in the months from January to December was +25.4 percent compared to 2020.
—For the period January to December vs. 2019, the cumulative invoiced travel agency revenue was minus 71.6 percent.
—Tourism recorded an increase of +31.9 percent compared to 2020 and -69.1 percent. compared to 2019. Air traffic recorded an increase of 20.8 percent compared to 2020 and a decrease of 77.2 percent compared to 2019.
—“Other” sales showed an increase of 21.2 percent compared to 2020 and a decrease of -4.9 percent compared to 2019.
—The number of tickets was -3.1 percent than in 2020 and 77.1 percent less than in 2019.
—The cruises segment recorded a cumulative -11.8 percent compared to 2020 or -72.7 percent compared to 2019.
—Incoming orders for tourism in December 2021 were up 961.8 percent compared to the month of 2020. The tourism order backlog by travel date up to December 2022 was +125.5 percent compared to the previous year.
—In the sub-division of cruises, incoming orders are plus 6,598.0 percent in a month-on-month comparison, the order backlog by travel date up to December 2022 is +78.2 percent.
—Incoming orders for tourism in December 2021 were -61.5 percent compared to the month of 2019. The tourism order backlog by travel date up to December 2022 was minus 53.2% compared to 2019.
—In the cruises sub-division, incoming orders were -40.2 percent compared to the month of 2019. The tourism order backlog by travel date up to December 2022 were -43.5 percent compared to 2019.