The latest bomb attack in Istanbul could hit a possible comeback for Turkish tourism but neighbouring Bulgaria is seeing soaring demand.
The German foreign ministry is advising tourists to take additional care in Istanbul, especially in public places and at tourist attractions, following Monday’s bomb attack in the city. In response to the incident, Thomas Cook said customers can re-book free of charge to an alternative destination.
The latest terror attack now threatens to halt the gradual improvement in demand for Turkey in recent weeks. Tour operators and travel agents have reported rising bookings in response to dramatic price reductions of up to 20-25% for package holidays.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria continues to win business as customers seek alternative destinations for their summer 2016 holidays, a new study by the German Internet Travel Retailers Association (VIR) showed.
Bookings to the Black Sea airports of Varna and Burgas are up by about 60% and 52% respectively, according to its analysis of online bookings made through reservations system Traveltainment between January 1 and May 19 for departures from May to October 2016.
This trend was confirmed by other tour operators. “Bulgaria is a safe country and has improved its image in the last few years,” said Ute Heinrichs, senior product manager at Schauinsland-Reisen. Some hotels are already booked out for the entire summer season, according to Jan Frankenberg, product manager for DER Touristik Cologne. The Bulgarian Tourist Board expects the overall number of German visitors to increase to 750,000 this year from 620,000 in 2015.
However, Majorca remains the top destination for Germans with growth of 19%, giving it a dominant 22% share of all online bookings, the VIR study showed. Antalya remained in second place with a 19% market share despite weaker demand, followed by Crete (Heraklion Airport) and the Canary Islands. Other short-haul destinations with good growth rates this year included Kos, Funchal (+23%) and Corfu.
Rising demand by online bookers for long-haul holidays was reflected in the top ten rankings for Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, and a 94% increase in bookings for Cuba (Varadero).
The bulk of online bookings were made by couples (66%) followed by families (10%) and singles (8%), the VIR study also showed.