German tourism market trends

Optimistic outlook for 2018 after solid growth in 2017

The German tourism industry is looking ahead optimistically to 2018 after overcoming setbacks such as airline and tour operator insolvencies to generate solid low growth last year.

January 03, 2018
Turkey hopes German bookings will take off in 2018.
Photo: Dreamstime

The German tour operator market increased turnover by about 4% in summer 2017 and by at least 2% for the full 2016/17 business year, according to sales analysis by market researchers GfK. However, several leading tour operators have reported higher growth rates. In addition, cruise holiday sales continued to grow strongly last year, probably again at a double-digit rate, according to experts.

German travel industry association DRV predicts further market growth and similar demand trends again in 2018 as last year.

“We expect that Mediterranean destinations such as Spain and Greece will again be the most popular package holiday destinations in the coming year,” said DRV president Norbert Fiebig at the end of December. Spain maintained its top spot in the German destination ranking last year while Greece grew by 30% to overtake Turkey in second place.

Fiebig was also optimistic about prospects for three major destinations that have suffered setbacks in recent years. “The growth path of Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey will also continue in all likelihood in 2018,” he said. Egypt (+55%) and Tunisia already made strong comebacks last year while demand for Turkey, which again suffered a drop in German tourists in 2017, is picking up for next summer, according to tour operators.

The DRV also predicts continuing strong demand for cruise holidays in 2018 along with good sales of long-haul holidays, albeit slowed by the impact on demand of serious hurricanes in the Caribbean last autumn.

In line with these forecasts, Thomas Cook Germany reported last month that summer 2018 bookings are strong for Spain, especially Majorca, as well as Greece and Bulgaria, while Turkey is recovering with a double-digit rise in customer numbers, and Egypt and Tunisia are continuing their comeback.

These figures and predictions have left German travel agents in an optimistic mood, according to the latest monthly fvw ‘sales climate index’. This soared to a new all-time high of 120.7 points in December. More than half (57%) of the survey participants described their current sales figures as good. Nearly one third (31%) expect rising demand in the coming months, while more than half predict at least stable sales.

Leading travel agency figure Thomas Bösl, head of the RTK and Reiseland cooperation groups and spokesman for the QTA mega-alliance, welcomed the sales growth but also pointed out the “immense” workload in travel agencies over the last few months due to the insolvencies of Air Berlin, Niki and JT Touristik. “That takes a lot of strength – and all for zero euros,” he commented. “And 2018 will not be any less hard work,” he predicted.

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