German and British holiday patterns

By | Category: Travel news
image from the air of Mykonos

Mykonos in Greece. Greece has moved up to be the number two destination for Germans

The German market is very similar to the British one. We tend to holiday in similar places; we have the same two travel companies – TUI and Thomas Cook – as major players and similar booking practices happen. Just as there has been a return or, at worst,  a stabilisation in booking via travel agents in the UK a similar thing has happened to Germany.

Yesterday, the biggest travel trade show in the world opened in Berlin. Over the week some 300,000 people will look at what destinations have on offer. Before the public visits the travel trade will discuss deals, politics and the future. 10,000 exhibitors are here in Berlin from 184 countries along with 5,000 members of the press all to spread the word about travel and what is available.

Yesterday, DRV- the German Travel Association set the scene with its annual survey of changing habits in the German market and some comparisons with other countries. How similar is it to the UK?  It even uses a strapline, the origin of which will be obvious to many Britons – Keep Calm and Go to ITB Berlin!

supermarket holiday brochures

Supermarkets sell holidays as well. Will Aldi and Lidl bring that to the UK?

Their survey says that 38% of all travel products are sold over the web meaning about two-thirds still prefer the security of face-to-face meetings with travel agencies. That is similar to British habits where issues over security and travel company collapses have meant that bonded travel agencies have seen a rise in bookings. In Germany the number of travel agents is growing. Will that happen in the UK as well? There, supermarkets like Lidl and Kaufland have own branded holiday brochures. Will Aldi and Lidl expand that to the UK?

But the view is still that growth is likely to be online but will it be with holiday companies or with intermediaries? The future will not be about online or high street but with established providers, travel intermediaries or new entrants such as Amazon which sells holidays in the USA.

Germans are taking longer to complete the booking process than they once were says DRV. Spontaneity seems to be on the decline; they won’t just decide today and go tomorrow in the same numbers as they have done previously.

Morocco is increasingly popular

Germans travel to mainland Spain, the Balearics, the Canaries, Portugal, Greece and Croatia.  Does that sound familiar? They didn’t travel in such large numbers to Turkey and Tunisia. Holidays in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico rose. Bookings to the USA, Thailand the Maldives declined but demand for cruises was high. Greece is up by 17% and is now is the second most popular destination for Germans.  Bulgaria is up by 33%, Croatia 36%, Morocco has almost doubled and interest in Egypt has risen by 90% up but that was from a low base after a few years in the doldrums. It still might falter because of concerns about the increases in visa fees which means a family of four will pay $240.That is also concerning British tour operators selling holidays to Egypt.

In all the German holiday market last year grew by 6% but amongst what DRV defines as luxury holidays – those costing more than €2,500 per person (about £2,170) – the rise has been 9%. Overnight stays rose by 1% but the world average is nearly four times this so there is some concern.

In 2017, Cyprus and Morocco are showing increased bookings as is the Caribbean. But there may be a decline in demand for USA holidays. The information – so far – is mixed.  Whether there is Trump effect or not is not yet easy to decide. But both the UK and Germany are seeing less interest in holidaying there and surveys suggest it may be due to the political conditions there. The US doesn’t allow visitors of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – to travel there visa-free as the rest of EU citizens can. Now the EU parliament has voted to remove – in two months – the rights of Americans to travel to EU countries visa free. If this happened and the USA made all EU citizens apply for a visa, there will be an even bigger reduction in holidaymakers  travelling to the US.

Turkey – there should be holiday bargains there this year

For 2017, DRV says that there is “barely any demand” for holidays in Turkey this year with bookings declining by 58% compared to last year. It means there will be discounted holidays in Turkey this year if you wish to holiday there. In 2015, 5.6 million tourists from Germany went there. There was a big drop in 2016 but there was also a tendency to view Turkey as a last minute destination since widespread discounting and promotions happened. Bargains may be even more widespread for Britons and Germany this year as the visitor numbers from their largest market – Russia – have dropped by 90%. Some of that decline is due to political issues but some is down to terrorism.

Terrorism is a constant thought and DRV has noticed a decline in city breaks since this is where attacks have tended to take place in the last few years.  In addition, the rise of accommodation taxes may also be having an effect.  For the future, a perception of whether holidaymakers feel safe or not may become an important factor in choosing where to holiday.

One of the growth areas in tourism over the last few years has been health and wellness tourism. Travelling to spas has become big-business and what half-decent four or five star hotel doesn’t have a spa these days? But growing even more quickly now is the demand for medical tourism. It is estimated that between 3-4% of the world’s population will travel for medical reasons taking advantage of facilities and prices outside their own countries. The market is claimed to be worth $US439 billion each year. We are seeing this grow in the UK as people seek dental treatment in places like Hungary and the Baltic states and, for more complex medical assistance, visiting countries like India and Malaysia. It isn’t just the British who seek to bypass the NHS or avoid the high costs of British private medicine and health care. The Germans are just as interested in bargain health tourism as are the populations of many other countries.

Germans holiday numbers are still growing but not by as high a proportion as the rest of  the world is growing. Nonetheless Germans still holiday more than anyone. Each adult and child spent 20 days on average travelling in 2016. They are the still the world champions of travel.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,