German market trends

Domestic holidays boom as heatwave keeps Germans at home

Holiday resorts on the milder Baltic and North Sea coasts are packed this summer as late bookers switch away from scorching Mediterranean destinations, according to researchers and tour operators.

August 07, 2018
Germany’s Baltic Sea beaches (such as Hohwacht) are packed this summer.
Photo: Thies Raetzke/TASH

The German travel industry is enjoying a strong year with a 13% rise in summer 2018 sales revenues as of end-June thanks to very strong early bookings before and after Christmas, according to the latest monthly analysis by market researchers GfK. However, growth slowed to just 4% in June as last-minute bookings dried up.

Several tour operators have confirmed that the current heatwave appears to be hitting late bookings as Germans either delay booking holidays completely or prefer to head off to a domestic destination amid weeks of temperatures well above 30° across the country.

Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser last week confirmed that package holiday sales had slowed significantly recently due to this trend. An Alltours spokeswoman told the DPA news agency that there had been a “slight dip” in last-minute sales as customers prefer the North Sea coast to Majorca. FTI said it was seeing strong demand for domestic and overland destinations such as Northern Italy.

GfK tourism expert Roland Gassner said demand is typically stronger for domestic holidays in hot summers. “It’s possible that this summer will not be so successful for last-minute sales to the Mediterranean,” he commented.

These comments have been reinforced by new figures from the German Tourism Industry Federation (BTW), which represents both the outgoing and inbound travel sectors. Its latest Tourism Index, based on a GfK consumer survey, found that Germans will travel more and spend more on travel this year, with the number of ‘travel days’ probably increasing by 30 million this year from last year’s 1.68 billion. The number of ‘travel days’ already increased by 2.6% in the first four months of the year.

“Germans want to spend more money on private trips and excursions than in previous years,” declared BTW president Michael Frenzel.

However, they will probably also travel more within their own country, according to the BTW. The number of day-trips, which are overwhelmingly within Germany and represent a third of all private trips, already increased by 5% in the first four months of the year. “A lot points to this Germany trend from the first few months continuing through the rest of the year,” Frenzel commented. “Apart from attractive offers, the continuing fine weather is definitely playing into the hands of travel and excursion destinations in Germany.”

This trend already showed up in various statistics for May. The number of overnight stays within Germany increased by 5% in the first five months of 2018, according to the federal statistics office. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, for example, registered a 7% rise in sales for hotels and other accommodation during the unusually warm month of May.

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