Trends for the 2015 travel year

As the balance of the 2015 travel year is drawn, it becomes clear that many holiday makers travelled long distances. This year, exotic destinations were in high demand with German travellers. The number of long-haul travellers rose to more than five and half million - a high double-digit increase, bringing the proportion of long-haul destinations in the overall tourism market from 7.6 to almost eight percent. 

According to early estimates regarding tourism year 2014/15 (as of October 31), tour operators' sales revenues were up between three and four percent. Sales revenues generated by tour operators thereby increased by approx. one billion euros to a total of now more than 27 billion euros. And also the number of travellers on organized tours has again slightly risen -  by almost one percent. "This shows a continuing high demand for travel organized by tour operators", said Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association (DRV), at this year's DRV's Annual Convention in Lisbon on November 19.

"The German travel industry is looking back on a very satisfactory year, even if political situations in some destinations were difficult and the high US Dollar exchange rate posed major challenges to the industry", concluded DRV President Fiebig. It was, however, the early hedging against exchange risks of the US Dollar in relation to the euro in buying hotel and flight contingents for long-haul travel that both customers and operators benefited from.

Here are the trends for the 2015 travel year at a glance, as analysed by the German market research company GfK:

  • Caribbean destinations, in particular Cuba with a jump in sales revenue of 25 percent, as well as the Dominican Republic and Mexico are among the winners. The United Arab Emirates are showing a significant increase of 15 percent and the USA of 11 percent. Germans are also more attracted by Asian destinations than in the previous year, which is reflected by an increase in sales revenues generated especially in Thailand.  A major reason why exotic holiday destinations are booming were favourable package travel prices. Tour operators benefited from early hedging their purchases of hotel and flight contingents against exchange rate fluctuations.
  • Numerous traditional destinations around the Mediterranean also recorded increases. Strong increases in sales revenues were recorded by Portugal with a plus of 14 percent and Turkey with an increase of 4 percent. Egypt is recording double-digit increases and the Balearic Islands' plus is in the single-digit range. The country on the Nile is posting a substantial growth in the medium double-digit range, even if visitor numbers have not yet reached again the figure of 1.3 million guests that was reached before the Arab Spring. Greece is performing well with figures reaching again the record level of 2014.  
  • Less visitors than in the previous season were counted in Tunisia, the Canary Islands and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Southern Africa is, however, slowly recovering from the effects of the Ebola epidemic mainly responsible for these declines.
  • On previous year's level is the performance of destinations that can be reached by car, train or bus.  German destinations are still in high demand with slight growth rates, while neighbouring countries are recording a slight decline. Trips to various European cities remain popular.

The high demand for exotic dream destinations resulted in tour operator sales increases of five percent compared with last year. Medium-haul destinations, predominantly in the countries around the Mediterranean, are recording a growth in sales revenues by 3 percent. Turnover in the segment of the so-called earthbound destinations to be reached by train, bus or car remains constant. Cruises posted again substantial gains: According to early projections by the DRV Committee Statistics and Market Research, tour operators are expected to have generated in 2015 a high single-digit growth in sales in the sea and river cruise segment.

The proportion of the total cruise business, including access and return travel, in tour operator sales has risen to about 13 percent.  This means, cruises account for three billion out of the total sales of 27 billion euros, with an upward trend.  If one looks at the last two decades, it is plain to see that the cruise segment has experienced a strong and steady growth. "The German sea cruise market is the fastest growing tourism market with above-average annual growth rates," said DRV President Fiebig.

When presenting the figures and trends for 2015, President Fiebig emphasized that it was more and more difficult to predict developments and demand in tourism.  In recent times, some destinations reported ups and downs in visitor numbers comparable to a roller coaster ride. Political upheavals, natural catastrophes, the Arab Spring oder terrorist attacks are having an impact on the demand for a specific destination.  Take for instance Tunisia and Egypt that have reported substantial fluctuations in the number of visitors over the last five years. The fluctuating demand caused by external factors makes it more difficult for tour operators to plan and purchase flight and hotel contingents.