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German outbound travel surprising development

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Germans would rather not eat, but they do want to travel – and it will show again – in full swing

Germans will once again be the world champions in international travel and tourism.

By 2024 outbound travel from Germany will exceed the record numbers of 2019.

In 2019 116.1 million Germans traveled internationally. The economy was not in the best shape, but it didn’t stop Germans from exploring the world.

In 2024 this number is expected to be a never achieved record of 117.9 million Germans traveling overseas.

Tour operators and travel agents are getting ready in German. Budget-friendly travel, visits to friends and family, and non-city locations—especially in the country’s favorite holiday destination, Austria—are the most popular. 

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This data was part of research for GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Germany Source Tourism Insight, 2022 Update’, which notes that the recovery in Germany’s outbound tourism followed a weak 2020 and 2021 when strict COVID restrictions were the norm. Germany’s outbound tourism numbers shrank to a fraction of what they were in 2019. A 64.5% decline year-on-year (YoY) from 116.1 million travelers in 2019 to 41.2 million in 2020 before a further decline in 2021 to a mere 40.4 million.

The expected recovery showcased in the GlobalData report is good news. Germany remains one of the most important tourism source markets for many destinations.

Low-cost holidays

While rising prices have got everyone budgeting, German travelers are often looking for budget-friendly options. A survey by GlobalData found that 55% of German respondents identified ‘affordability’ as a main factor in deciding where to go on holiday, so low-cost carriers (LCCs) such as RyanAir, EasyJet, Eurowings, Air Berlin, TUIfly, and Condor might be their first port-of-call when it comes to international travel. 

Times of high inflation would typically see severely dampened demand for international travel. This situation now, however, is different.

Chaos at Airports

Chaos and lines at Germany’s main airports may only be the beginning of an otherwise welcome renewal of the German travel and tourism industry.

What type of Hotels will Germans stay in?

Many European travelers keen on keeping their holiday plans may simply cut the amount they spend on products and services before and during their trip. For example, travelers that usually stay in medium prized hotels may now lean towards budget accommodations.

Over a quarter of German travelers book through online travel agents

Digitalized services and products are of utmost importance when attracting the German market.

How will Germans book travel?

A survey by GlobalData reveals that 29% of German respondents typically use online travel agents when booking a trip. This was the most popular booking method, followed by direct booking with a lodging provider (16%) and in-store face-to-face travel agents (15%).

This decision to book with travel agents (both online and off) is in line with the priority German travelers place on ‘how well the product and service are tailored to needs.

Visiting friends and relatives is a key reason to travel

GlobalData’s survey reveals that 29% of German tourists typically take holidays to visit family and friends. 

On the other end of the scale, just 11% of respondents said they went on gastronomy holidays in 2021, a small number—especially when compared to the rest of the world, which averaged 26%.

This could be due to concerns around the pandemic, as only 17% of German travelers said that they are not concerned about the spread of the virus.

Concern about the virus

While concern about the pandemic is lessening, this lingering unease will likely maintain the lack of interest German tourists have in international gastronomic pursuits into the latter half of 2022.

Meanwhile, demand for city break holidays is likely to be dampened in the short term due to lingering COVID-19 fears of infection, which may drive demand for destinations in more rural areas. 

Recovery in German travelers good news for Austria

Austria remains the number one outbound destination for German tourists due to easy, direct travel routes between the two countries. Austria also offers German travelers a rural destination with COVID-19-safe experiences. Germany is consistently Austria’s largest inbound tourist demographic, and while the pandemic didn’t change, the scale of inbound tourism fell dramatically from 14.4 million German tourists in 2019 to 8.6 million in 2020 and 5.8 million in 2021.

The influx of German tourists anticipated by Austria will provide a welcome boost to the recovery of the Austrian tourism industry, with 14.5 million German tourists expected by 2024.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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