Bookings slump continues in March

REPORTS TOURISM WORLD

Hopes of a post-ITB upturn in the German tourism market have been dashed by figures showing an 11% decline in package holiday bookings last month.

After a 9% bookings drop in January but a decline of just 2% in February, the German tourism industry was hoping that a record ITB in early March would stimulate a long-awaited boost to business.

But travel agents in Germany suffered a sharp 11% decline in overall sales revenues last month with poor summer bookings and very low late winter sales, the latest monthly representative survey by market researchers GfK found.

Bookings for summer 2016 holidays were down by 7% last month, leaving the cumulative decline to date also at 7%. This is a fractional improvement on the 8% decline as of end-February. Apart from July, which has a 1.8% rise, all other months are down, with the main holiday month of August showing a dramatic fall of nearly 20%.

In volume terms, only 57% of last year’s volumes had been sold as of end-March, compared to 65% of the previous year’s volume at the same time last year when bookings were showing a cumulative 6% rise.

Meanwhile, winter 2015/16 sales were 1% higher as of end-March, with the strong early growth seen last autumn further swallowed up by low sales and weak last-minute demand in recent months. In March, late winter bookings were 11% lower than the same month last year.

This current weak demand was underscored by a representative survey of more than 1,000 online consumers by online travel community Travelzoo which found that 63% of Germans have not yet booked their summer holiday.

Every tenth person explained this by fear of another terror attack in a holiday destination, and nearly one person in three wants to avoid “endangered European cities” in the foreseeable future. More than half (53%) of those who have not yet booked said they wanted to book spontaneously, while one quarter plans to book their summer holiday in March or April.

In terms of destinations, 40% said they planned to go on holiday within Germany. Safety will play a major role in the choice of destination, with 35% planning to select their destination based on security issues.

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