Tourism Analysis 2017

Greece booms as Turkey slumps

Greece was the clear winner among German tourist destinations last year, Spain, Italy and Austria weakened, and Turkey suffered another big drop, according to the results of this year’s Tourism Analysis survey which also showed a new record for long-haul travel.

February 08, 2018
Rhodes and other Greek destinations welcomed record numbers of German tourists last year
Photo: Thinkstock

The big changes in visitor flows in the Eastern Mediterranean were the most striking results in the annual survey of some 3,000 German holidaymakers (aged over 14) on their travel behaviour last year by the BAT Foundation for Future Issues.

Once again, Spain remained the favourite destination for German tourists but saw its share drop slightly from 14.1% in 2016 to 13.7% last year. About one in seven travellers from Germany spent their holidays on the Balearics, Canaries or the Spanish mainland. Study leader Professor Ulrich Reinhardt said the mainland is experiencing a comeback thanks to the overcrowded islands.

Italy still ranked second with 7.7% of all German holiday trips but this, too, was slightly lower than in 2016. Similarly, Austria’s share fell notably to 3.9% but it moved up into third place.

The reason was that Turkey’s share of the German market dropped from 4.4% in 2016 to 3.6% last year, leaving it in fourth place, according to the Tourism Analysis results. One reason could be safety concerns: only 5% of survey respondents said they felt comfortable and safe in Turkey. The outlook for this year is mixed. Although tour operators have reported strong bookings, only 1% of Germans plan to holiday in the country this year.

In contrast, according to Reinhardt, Greece is “last year's winner". The country increased its share to 3.1% from 2.8% in the previous year, leaving it in sixth place behind Croatia. Other European destinations with higher shares last year included Scandinavia, France and the Benelux countries.

Meanwhile, there was a new record for German long-distance travel in 2017. The percentage of Germans spending their main holiday outside Europe rose from 11.4% in 2016 to 13.1% last year, the highest-ever figure.

The winners were destinations in South and East Asia - from China, Thailand to Indonesia and Sri Lanka - with 2.9%. North Africa with Egypt and Tunisia also stabilised at a low level of 2.9%. Egypt is still considered unsafe by German tourists. Only 5% said they felt comfortable and safe in the country. The Caribbean (2.2%) and the Middle East (1.2%) were also successful.

The USA was a clear loser in the first year under US President Donald Trump, according to the survey. While 3.1% of German citizens travelled to North America, including Canada, in 2016, the figure was only 2.2% in 2017.

Despite the overall growth in foreign travel, most Germans still spend their main holiday in their own country. The figure was constant at 34% last year. The top domestic destinations were Bavaria and the two coastal regions of Mecklenburg – Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein.

Overall, the booming economy and low unemployment caused travel intensity to increase in 2017, the Tourism Analysis found. A total of 58% of Germans made a trip of at least five days - the highest figure in ten years. On average, the main trip lasted 13 days. Expenditure on holidays also increased: on average, German citizens spent €1,193 per person on the main trip.

For 2018, a new record can be expected, said Reinhardt. "The travel year 2018 promises further growth. One person in two is already sure to travel this year and is planning a holiday. Long-distance travel is once again a trend. It should also be a strong year for tourism in Germany.“ The local safety situation will again be important when choosing the travel destination, according to the study leader.

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