Germany saw a two percent drop in outbound trip volume for the first eight months, yet hosting the FIFA World Cup was a huge success regarding the country’s image.
“Although the FIFA World Cup can be partially blamed for the ‘stay-at-home’ trend among Germans so far this year, the decline in outbound trip volume was nonetheless disappointing,” said Rolf Freitag, President of IPK International and organiser at the recent Pisa Forum.
“t was also a bit surprising,” Freitag added. “True, the German outbound travel market has not been one of the most dynamic in recent years. But it has recovered and was expected to show positive growth in 2006.” This of course may well prove the case by the end of the year as anecdotal evidence presented in Pisa suggests that demand has picked up since the end of the peak summer period. From January through August, both VFR and business travel increased but holiday trips stagnated, as did all forms of long-haul travel, according to IPK’s German Travel Monitor.
Of the top five foreign destinations visited by Germans in 2005 - Austria (13% market share), Spain (13%), Italy (11%), France (9%) and Turkey (6%) - only Spain recorded an increase in German visits from January through August 2006. The other four all suffered declines, with Turkey falling dramatically from 2005’s level.
As for other European markets, Germans are increasingly using the internet to make their travel bookings. While online ‘looking’ - researching travel options before a trip/trips - fell by 10% in 2005, online bookings actually increased by 35%. This took the share of trips involving online looking and/or booking to 43%, and that for online booking to 27%.
Further strong growth in online booking in the first eight months of 2006 means that these shares will undoubtedly have increased yet again, although actual internet-booked trips as a share of total trip volume is still well below that in the UK (50%). But one of the main factors influencing online travel demand, and that can be expected to drive demand in the future, is the expansion of German tour operators’ dynamic packaging capabilities. Booking online is easy, quick and often a lot cheaper than buying traditional tour packages.
In line with trends in the rest of Europe, Germans are also taking more and more low-fare flights - both for domestic destinations and abroad. The share of low-fare trips in total air travel volume reached 27% in 2005 and is rising fast. This is also one of the major contributors to the increase in online travel, since most low-fare flights are also booked through the internet.
The impact of the FIFA World Cup on tourism performance
As far as German inbound tourism is concerned, the different statistics gathered by the German National Tourist Board (DZT), as well as the local tourism industry and the different experts gathered in Pisa, all concur that Germany’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup was a huge success, both in terms of earnings, but also regarding the country’s general image and of its attraction as a tourism destination.
“In the first eight months of 2006, Germany attracted a 9% increase in foreign visitor arrivals, with a 10% rise in overnight volume,” said Joachim Scholz, representing the DZT market research team in Pisa. “Some of the growth rates for arrivals from different markets over the two months June and July are quite staggering,” he added, ” with +110% from Portugal, +256% from Brazil, and +405% from Central America/Caribbean.”
In terms of the increases in absolute volumes, the UK was the leading source, generating an additional 292,943 arrivals over the two months, according to the DZT’s research, while the USA, in second position, accounted for an additional 210,791 visitors. DZT data also shows that 73% of all visitors travelled to Germany specifically for the World Cup.
Further analysis of the impact of the FIFA World Cup on Germany’s performance, as well as detailed information on trends in different regions of the world, is available in the ITB/IPK World Travel Trends report, which can be downloaded from ITB’s website. Rolf Freitag will also be making his traditional Berlin Message presentation during the ITB Congress on Wednesday 7 March, during which he will update the World Travel Trends report with full-year 2006 data.