From early November onwards and during the first three months after the turn of the year most Germans book their summer vacation – it is the main booking phase. The core business of the high-street travel agencies and the online travel portals is based on package tours. The first trends concerning the foreign destinations of Germans during their vacation are shown by evaluations of the market researchers of GfK, which the German Travel Association (DRV) presents shortly before ITB Berlin 2019, the world’s most important travel trade fair. The vacation regions with the highest demand in terms of sales revenues for the summer of 2019 are currently (status: late January):
Please note: Spain as a whole (Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and mainland together) ranks first as in previous years. The GfK evaluations Travel Insights record the bookings in high-street travel agencies and on online portals with a focus on package tours.
Development by individual countries: growth for Eastern Mediterranean
Summer vacation in Turkey is this year again in a particularly high demand: the booking revenues in German travel sales (high-street travel agencies and online portals) are already now remarkable with 58% above prior year which had already shown clearly higher bookings for the country on the Bosporus. With an impressive comeback Turkey is regaining market shares which it lost during the crisis to other travel destinations such as Spain and Greece. There is also a high demand for the North African holiday countries for summer 2019: Egypt has a double-digit growth rate, whilst Tunisia records a high single-digit increase.
Altogether the travel destinations in the eastern Mediterranean including, apart from Turkey and Greece, also Egypt, Bulgaria, Tunisia and Croatia, have a sales revenue growth in the amount of 9%. About more than one-third of all holiday spendings for air package tours for next summer are hence accounted for by the travel destinations in the eastern Mediterranean.
Long-distance travel: USA again stronger
Long-distance travel has in summer an altogether significantly lower relevance than in winter. The most important long-distance destination during the travel period from May to October is the USA, which recorded a declining booking status in the high-street travel agencies and in the online travel portals last year. At present, the travel bookings for the USA show again a single-digit growth rate. Canada can build on a high prior year growth. The target region North America has hence a positive development. This also applies to Central and South America: Mexico, for instance, grows in terms of turnover by 8% for package tours as the most visited country in that region.
In the Caribbean there is again a stronger demand for Cuba, with growth in the lower double-digit range. Destinations in Africa continue to be popular and can build on the strong prior year growth. The growth driver in Africa is currently Kenya with a good double-digit increase in sales revenues. Cruises stay on course and continue to have an unchanged good development. They are, like Turkey, one of the growth drivers on the market.
Sales revenue development for the summer: still below the very strong prior year, but growth expected
The summer season 2019 must assert itself against the very strong prior year season because last year the holiday travel bookings rose between November 2017 and January 2018 as a result of a very strong early booker business in a disproportionately high manner (plus 18%). The cumulated booking revenues since November of last year to the end of January 2019 for the forthcoming summer are in travel distribution (high-street and online) still 2% below prior year. “The extremely good prior year numbers qualify of course the current booking status. The early booker phase with its special offers is still running, and we expect a further rise in bookings during the coming weeks,” says DRV President Fiebig: “Already today more than 40% of the volume that the Germans spent last year altogether on summer vacations has been booked.”
The tourism year 2018/19 also includes the currently still ongoing winter season (November 2018 to April 2019), which shows a growth in sales revenues of 4% at the end of January. An above-average growth is recorded by long-distance destinations.
DRV President Fiebig expects a further growth in the travel market for the overall year 2019: “Against the backdrop of the forecasted worldwide weakening of the general economic development, we expect a challenging year, but also anticipate a slight increase in the low single-digit percentage range.”
Basis of the evaluation
The evaluations are based on the vacation travel revenues through GDS systems and online travel agencies for tour operator trips. The statements on the summer of 2019 include all bookings until the end of January 2019. They do not include telephone travel bookings as well as direct bookings with service providers (flight, train, hotel) and on product portals such as Booking or Airbnb. The “overall market” hence includes essentially the market of organised tour operator trips. In the cruise segment CRS bookings are included.
As a top-level association, DRV represents the travel industry in Germany and defends, more particularly, the interests of tour operators and travel agents. DRV is supported by a significant economic strength: its members represent the largest part of the sales revenues on the tour operator and travel agent market.