It is not yet a clear trend but since mid-February there have been indications suggesting a picking up of travel bookings: the sales revenues for trips which are booked in high-street travel agencies and on online portals have significantly increased compared to the previous weeks during the second half of February. This has been communicated by the German Travel Association (DRV) on the basis of the analyses by Travel Data + Analytics (TDA) in the run-up to the worldwide travel fair ITB Berlin. “With the prospect of vaccinations and more testing opportunities, the confidence to be soon able to travel again rises, too. Moreover, we anticipate a catch-up effect since many people were not able to go on vacation last year and postponed it to 2021”, says Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association (DRV).
During the past weeks the new bookings stagnated on a level of about 20 percent. “This drop in turnover for tour operator bookings of more than 80 percent versus the prior year period is very far from being caught up; this year will continue to be marked by losses for the travel industry”, DRV President Norbert Fiebig fears. As a rule, the time around the turn of the year and the first weeks of a year are the main booking months of the Germans for their vacation.
Easter holidays have so far been booked rather hesitantly
Most customers are currently booking trips for this summer or later this year – partly even for trips next year: Around 60 percent of the booking turnover is received these days for the summer season, one fourth of the sales revenues are booked for the time after October. Only 13 percent of the new bookings received by mid-February are accounted for by the winter season ending at the end of April – and hence also the Easter holidays. Missing opening strategies of the policymakers and large uncertainty concerning the travel opportunities during the Easter holidays let many customers hesitate as far as their travel decision is concerned. It is to be expected that for April and also May there will be short-term bookings, as soon as relaxations will be in sight. For departures during the coming weeks – i.e. in March – there are currently only a few short-term bookings, which focus on specific destinations such as the Canary Islands, the Maldives or Cuba. The quarantine provisions upon the return to Germany are currently the strongest travel deterrent.
Outlook for the summer and the entire tourism year
For the summer, above all air travel package tours to destinations in the eastern Mediterranean – e.g. Greece and Turkey – are in demand. The Greek islands are currently leading in terms of demand. Bookings for Spanish destinations, such as the Balearic Islands, are currently still received with restraint. By contrast, the number of bookings for cruises and long-haul destinations is rising in a disproportionate manner. In this connection, the demand for cruises concerns primarily the summer of 2022.
It is difficult to foresee how the tourism year 2020/21 (1.11.2020 to 31.10.2021) will altogether develop. “It would already be a success if we reached around 50 percent of the turnover volume of 2019 for the market of travel agents and tour operators”, DRV President Fiebig comments with cautious optimism. “The surveys of the past weeks show: the Germans want to travel and are in the starting blocks. In the current bookings, customers rely on the best possible protection, as it is offered, for instance, by the package tour. Moreover, tour operators currently offer attractive early booker terms and flexible rebooking and cancellation possibilities to facilitate booking decisions.
Background to the surveys:
Travel Data + Analytics GmbH (TDA) took over the tourism trade panel from GfK in April 2019 and continues it as TDA Travel Intelligence. It is based on the booking data of around 1,750 travel agents which are representative for the high-street sales market in Germany. In addition, the booking data of the classic travel portals of so-called Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and tour operators are covered in the online area. After an extrapolation to the overall market, the analyses allow reliable conclusions for the booking and travel behaviour of the German holidaymakers.
The German Travel Association (DRV) represents the travel industry in Germany. As a top level association DRV bundles a major economic strength. Its members represent the highest share in the sales revenues in the tour operator and travel agent market. The tourism industry offers around three million jobs. Several thousand member companies, including many tourism service providers, have turned DRV into a strong community which pools many different interests, driven by the motto “The travel industry. All destinations. One voice.”