Please note: the following information has been compiled from the most important German-speaking Trade Media.
Current major topics within the tourism industry in the DACH region
- SUMMER BUSINESS REMAINS STRONG: According to an analysis by Travel Data + Analytics, the 2023 summer season is on track to be close to 2019’s results. By the end of July, total revenue for 2022 was already slightly surpassed and just 3% short of the 2019 summer season result. Short-term bookings remain strong; 39% of July revenue came from travel booked for July or August, compared to 33% in July 2019. Even though summer bookings are up – currently up 16% year-over-year and 9% compared to pre-Corona 2019 – there are still 18% fewer travelers than in summer 2019. Winter 2023 bookings show strong growth, up 57% year-over-year. Still, winter travel sales levels are 8% below pre-Corona levels. Despite the increase in last-minute summer bookings, this growth is lacking in winter bookings. Read more
- BETWEEN TRAVEL, COST CONSCIOUSNESS AND SUSTAINABILITY DEBATE: This year, both travel confidence and travel frequency have increased, with an increase in the number of trips of at least 3 nights. Still, these numbers do not reach pre-Corona levels. The Swiss dream of more distant destinations such as Hawaii, Japan and Thailand, but still tend toward closer destinations such as Germany, Italy and Austria. To save money, many Swiss book far in advance. The travel industry is facing more and more online bookings and bookings via sharing economy platforms, with booking via such platforms becoming more popular in 2023. However, traditional travel agencies are still relevant, especially for those who value personalized advice. The survey also shows that overtourism is a concern, with 21% of respondents saying they have avoided certain destinations. Many value coverage for cancellation costs and other benefits of travel insurance. The rising cost of travel is also impacting respondents‘ spending. Regarding sustainability, the results show mixed opinions. While some travelers consider sustainability measures, such as carbon offsets or visiting sustainable destinations, others ignore the issue or see it as antithetical to travel. So there is still room for improvement in terms of sustainable travel. Read more
- SUMMER STRONG, WINTER ROARING: Germany’s leading tour operator TUI reports a successful summer and expects strong winter business. In particular, destinations in Egypt, such as Hurghada, are seeing an increase in demand, with Hurghada even overtaking Fuerteventura in TUI’s destination ranking. However, the Canary Islands remain the main winter destination for TUI customers, with Antalya, Madeira, Mallorca and the Cape Verde Islands also popular. Stefan Baumert, TUI’s head of Germany, emphasized the high occupancy rates and year-on-year revenue growth. The company has made gains in both online and offline sales, with particular emphasis on personal advice in travel agencies and the „My TUI“ app as a digital travel companion. TUI Fly plans to increase its flight capacity to Egypt and the Canary Islands. In addition, new and renovated hotels are included in its portfolio. Read more
Current topics within the transportation industry in Germany & Europe
- AMSTERDAM AIRPORT REDUCES FLIGHTS FROM 2024: The Dutch government plans to reduce aircraft movements at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport from 500,000 to 452,500 next year to reduce noise pollution for residents. Although the original plan was to reduce to 440,000 flights and reduce noise by 20%, the current plan targets a 15% reduction. Night flights are to be limited, but not completely banned, and private flights will still be allowed. While Schiphol Airport welcomes the plans, airline KLM criticizes the decision and suggests using quieter and more efficient aircraft instead. Read more
- COMPENSATION CLAIMS ALREADY AT PREVIOUS YEAR LEVEL: The consumer portal Flightright warns of a record number of complaints about flight delays and cancellations this year, should airlines fail to act. According to the German Judges‘ Association, claims for compensation in Germany currently total 70,000 – equal to the total for 2022 – and it is expected that around 120,000 claims will reach the local courts by the end of the year if airlines do not improve their services. This would exceed the record set in 2019. Technical problems, weather, strikes and organizational difficulties are reasons for the flight problems. Flightright stresses that airlines are still responsible for compensation. Cologne has the most cases with 18,794 complaints, followed by Königs Wusterhausen with 8,643 and Frankfurt am Main with 8,634. Düsseldorf and Erding also have high complaint numbers. Read more
- AIRLINE BUSINESS REACHES NEARLY PRE-CORONA LEVEL: Global airline business has almost fully recovered from the impact of the Corona pandemic this summer, according to the latest traffic figures from airline association Iata. In July, global air traffic reached 95.2% of July 2019 levels, with domestic traffic showing an 8.3% increase over 2019 levels, while international air traffic reached 88.7% of 2019 levels. Iata chief Willie Walsh was positive about aircraft utilization, but expressed concerns about some infrastructure partners and politically mandated capacity reductions at some airports. Europe’s traffic figures rose 13.8% in July, with Asia-Pacific showing the strongest growth, up more than 105%. Read more
- SHORT-TERM BUSINESS FOR RENTALS CONTINUES TO BE STRONG: In August, the rental car broker Sunny Cars recorded the highest number of bookings for this month in five years. Two-thirds of the bookings were planned at short notice for August and September. Despite the peak season, the cost of rental cars was the lowest it has been in two years, indicating a combination of continued travel demand and last-minute trends in late summer. On average, a vacation rental car cost about 411 euros last month. Although this price is higher than the pre-Corona years, travelers saved about 60 euros compared to August 2022. The last lower prices were recorded in May 2021. Read more
- AUSTRIA: In Austria, Statistics Austria recorded 39.5 million overnight stays for May to July – the highest figure since 1980. This increase means 6.3% more than in the previous year. More than two-thirds of overnight stays came from foreign guests. Despite challenges from bad weather, especially in Carinthia, optimism for the year as a whole is high. Between 145 and 147 million overnight stays are expected by the end of the year. Commercial vacation rentals experienced the largest increase, with domestic demand in the upscale hotel industry declining. A study shows that many ski resorts are at high risk for snow shortages due to climate change, encouraging tourism destinations to diversify their offerings for summer activities. It stresses that infrastructure such as mountain biking or hiking trails takes years to build, but they could transform classic winter destinations into attractive summer destinations. However, the country needs to rethink solutions to future challenges, including climate change.
- BHUTAN: After Bhutan post-pandemically reopened its borders almost a year ago, it introduced a high tourism fee of USD 200 per night, which severely dampened tourism. Despite an attempt to make this fee more flexible, the government eventually decided to halve it to USD 100 from September 2023. The fee aims to protect Bhutan’s natural resources and avoid mass tourism. With 70% forest cover and being a „CO2-negative“ country, Bhutan positions sustainable tourism as its top priority.
- BULGARIA: Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast is recording significantly weaker tourism figures for the 2023 summer season. Especially in Sunny Beach, the largest seaside resort, the figures are disappointing. The interest of Western European vacationers, especially from Germany, falls short of expectations. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is cited as the main reason. Although there was a slight increase in overnight stays in the resorts of Sunny Beach and Gold Beach, the record numbers of 2019 will not be reached. The number of German tourists has halved compared to 2019. The proximity to the Ukraine conflict and the perception of the Black Sea as a war zone deter tourists.
- CROATIA: Croatia recorded record tourism figures in the first eight months of this year, with 16.2 million foreign holidaymakers and 88.5 million overnight stays, matching those of the previous record year of 2019. Compared to 2020, the number of vacationers increased by eight percent, while overnight stays increased by two percent. Despite higher visitor numbers, tourists spent a shorter time in the country overall, according to HTZ director Kristjan Stanicic. Croatia has used the euro since 2021 and is part of the Schengen zone, which has eliminated border congestion with Slovenia. This resulted in time savings for vacationers arriving by car from countries such as Germany, Austria or Italy.
- DUBAI: Dubai International Airport has been the leading airport for international transit passengers for the past nine years, welcoming more than 66 million travelers last year, ranking fifth globally. Although it originally expected 83.6 million travelers in 2023, management has raised the forecast to 85 million due to the strong recovery in China. The airport plans to invest between €1.5 billion and €2.6 billion over the next 5-7 years to become a „full-fledged smart airport.“ This includes a new space concept based on an open structure, as well as improved and new lounges. Additional check-in counters and advanced scanners will further increase capacity. The goal is to expand capacity to 120 million annual travelers within the next 10-15 years. Dubai’s second airport, Dubai World Central, also plays an important role in the strategy to relieve pressure on the main airport.
- GERMANY: Germany’s popularity as a travel destination for foreign visitors has declined, as shown by a survey of airline passengers commissioned by the German Airports Association (ADV). While the share of so-called incoming passengers visiting Germany by air grew steadily before the Corona crisis, only one in five passengers at German airports was a visitor to the country in 2022. This represents an 11% decline compared to 2017, with foreign travelers accounting for only 23% of total passenger traffic. One of the main reasons for the decline is the lack of low-cost carriers flying to Germany. Airport fees in Germany are considered too high, a fact criticized by executives of major airlines such as Ryanair and Eurowings. Ralph Beisel, chief executive of the German Airports Association (ADV), emphasizes the importance of foreign guests for the German tourism industry and economy. He calls for a reduction in location costs and fees to restore Germany’s attractiveness to foreign airlines and tourists.
- GREECE: Severe storms have hit Greece, with the port city of Volos particularly hard hit. There, motorists were trapped by floodwaters and the mayor publicly appealed to people to stay at home. A 70-year-old cattle farmer was killed by a collapsing wall and another man is missing. Power outages and disruptions occurred in Corfu and the Sporades Islands, where hail damaged the olive crop. A ferry carrying hundreds of passengers was not allowed to dock in Volos because the port was flooded, and the airport on Skiathos was also affected. Driving bans were imposed in some areas due to the flooding.
- GUATEMALA: More than 12,200 dengue infections have been reported in Guatemala since the beginning of the year, twice as many as in the same period last year, with 22 deaths. As a result, the Guatemalan Ministry of Health has declared a health emergency for three months. This leads to increased measures against the spread of dengue virus, including fumigations against the transmitting mosquitoes. The civil defense agency points to increased mosquito breeding sites due to standing water during the rainy season. Globally, the number of dengue cases has increased eightfold since 2000, with half of the world’s population now at risk of infection.
- INDIA: India’s aviation industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom thanks to the country’s growing middle class. Franklin Templeton’s Dina Ting highlights that India’s airline business and aviation market are among the fastest growing in the world. The Indian government plans to build up to 80 new airports and upgrade existing facilities over the next five years to meet rising demand. Air India recently ordered 470 Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Despite previous challenges and bankruptcies in India’s aviation industry, passenger numbers are expected to rise to 520 million by 2037.
- ITALY: Venice plans to introduce a five-euro entrance fee for day visitors starting next year. Due to the immense influx of tourists, especially cruise ship tourists, there have been considerations for years to introduce an entrance fee. Starting in January 2024, there are plans to charge admission to the city center from day visitors in a test phase. Visitors are to receive a QR code via the Internet, which they must show during checks, otherwise they will face a fine of at least 50 euros. Exceptions are planned for children under 14. The measure aims to strike a balance between the needs of local residents and tourists. Unesco is currently considering whether to place Venice on the „World Heritage in Danger“ list.
- MALLORCA: Corona variant EG.5, also known as Eris, is causing increasing numbers of infections. The WHO has classified Eris as a „virus variant of interest“. In particular, vacation destinations such as Mallorca are reporting an increase in cases, partly due to the lifting of Corona measures. Many travelers returning from popular resorts are becoming infected. A 16-year-old student became infected in Lloret de Mar and showed symptoms while traveling home. Lloret de Mar, especially popular with young people, has a high risk of transmission due to large crowds. Some travelers don’t take the threat of the virus seriously, as one 17-year-old from Hamburg reported. Kristina Oehler of Ruf Jugendreisen notes that there are currently no travel restrictions or quarantine measures and emphasizes the personal responsibility of travelers. In Germany, the number of cases has increased by 65% in one week. Nevertheless, the president of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, does not see a threatening situation.
- THAILAND: Thailand’s airport in Phuket is planning an expansion to handle 18 million passengers per year in the future, compared to the current capacity of 12 million. The expected cost is at least 6 billion baht (approximately 150 million Swiss francs). The expansion is urgently needed due to increasing passenger numbers following the Corona pandemic. Although the airport will be able to handle 18 million passengers after the expansion, 16 million passengers could already use the airport this year, so the airport may still be too small after the expansion.
- THE BAHAMAS: The Bahamas experienced a surge in tourism in the first seven months of 2023 with over 5.89 million arrivals, expected to increase to 8 million by year-end. This represents a 59% growth over 2022 and surpasses the record set in 2019, with March 2023 recording the highest monthly arrival of 951,311 tourists. Tourist spending and hotel occupancy in New Providence also increased significantly. Most visitors came from the United States, most of them for vacation purposes. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, I. Chester Cooper, attributed this growth to strong branding and strategic business plans. He emphasized the sustainable nature of this growth and highlighted the government’s initiatives to provide Bahamians with entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism sector.
- TURKEY: At least four people were killed in Turkey after heavy rains. In Istanbul, two people died and the city streets turned into raging rivers. A metro station was also partially flooded and numerous people had to be rescued from a city library. Two more deaths were reported from the city of Kirklareli, while four people are still missing. This storm follows a particularly dry summer in which water levels in Istanbul’s reservoirs dropped to a nine-year low.
WHAT ELSE IS BREWING?
It’s time for our weekly deep-dive into the hottest travel stories!
If you thought a little turbulence was the only thing that could derail your transatlantic trip, think again! A recent Delta flight from Atlanta to Barcelona had to make a U-turn due to…wait for it…a „biohazard“ onboard! While the official statement cited a „medical emergency“, insiders spill the beans on a diarrhea debacle that called for a major clean-up crew. Massive shoutout to the unsung heroes who ensured the plane was spick and span (perhaps even more so than before!) and to the responders who attended to the unwell passenger. Tip: Always keep a change of clothes in your carry-on. You never know!
The buzzword of the year, „workation“, is making waves, with companies worldwide jumping on the bandwagon. But is this trendy mix of work and vacation the dreamy escapade it’s made out to be? Critics voice concerns about equity and the implications for corporate culture. It’s a good reminder that not all glitters is gold and that, sometimes, the most genuine job satisfaction comes from within. After all, can we truly detach and recharge if the laptop’s still humming in our beach cabana?
Ever wondered why everything at the airport, from a simple sandwich to a bottle of water, costs an arm and a leg? Behavioral economist Gianluca Scheidegger sheds some light: think high rents, frequent security checks, and crafty retail strategies designed to tap into our consumer psyches. Oh, and those sneaky gate delays to keep us shopping? Clever! Our wallets might be lighter, but at least we’re in the know.
Gone are the days when a flight delay meant hours of mindless magazine flipping. Turn that frown upside down and treat yourself to some serious R&R! Whether you’re at Munich’s Hilton or Frankfurt’s Steigenberger, there’s a spa calling your name. From rejuvenating massages to refreshing dips in the pool, make your wait a luxurious layover. Flight delays? Bring ‚em on!
Happy travels, and remember: adventure awaits, both in the sky and on the ground!
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