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10 Mar, 2008

India, Vietnam to Top List of German Outbound Travel Spots

BERLIN — India and Vietnam are expected to top the list of popular destinations for outbound German travellers by the year 2015, according to a study released at the ITB Berlin last week.

The study by Tourism Intelligence International said that the popularity of these new destinations will be one part of a major shift set to take place in German travel as the country’s population levels stagnate, leading to virtually zero-growth in the overall volume of travellers but significant changes in where and how they travel, as well as in their booking patterns.

Presenting the study at the world’s largest travel trade show here, TII Managing Director Dr Auliana Poon said that a survey of German tour operators had indicated that India will grow in popularity as it is a versatile destination with many different regions and cultures, backed by strong promotional campaigns and a good value for money factor.

Vietnam was cited for its “sun, sand and see” potential and interesting culture, and good combinations with other Asian countries. It was also referred to as being “similar to Thailand but more individual and pristine.”

Three other countries cited in the study as being popular amongst German travellers in future were Peru, South Africa and Ecuador.

The study said there would be no let-up in the propensity and desire of the Germans to travel, even though the county’s population level is expected to remain virtually unchanged at the present level of roughly 82.5 million, the largest in Europe, and well above that of both France (60.2 million), the UK (60 million) and Italy (58.2 million)

“The total number of German outbound trips (62.9 million in 2007) exceeds the population of any given European country,” the study said. “Germans have a huge appetite for travel. It is a basic necessity for them.”

Dr Poon noted that a generally good economy, strong Euro, low unemployment levels and a dynamic export sector will continue to drive the travel desire, with more Germans taking more holidays in addition to their normal six weeks of annual paid holidays.

She noted that the number of Germans who travelled abroad had more than doubled from 24 million in 1977 to 48.5 million in 2007, taking a total of 62.9 million trips and spending roughly US$ 90 billion, well ahead that of US travellers ($72 billion) and UK ($63 billion).

However, according to the study’s conclusions, the flat population projections will mean that by the year 2015, the number of German travellers will rise only marginally to 50 million and the total number of trips will drop to 61.7 million.

This will mean that destinations can expect more competition for a share of a pie that will no longer be growing. “It is clear that destination marketers will have to look beyond the numbers,” said Dr Poon.

She noted that under those circumstances, it will become more important to keep an eye on how and where Germans travel, what will they look for in a holiday, and how their behaviour patterns will change.

For example, she noted, today 55% of German travellers go on holiday with their spouses and 29% travel with one or more child (18 years and under). Roughly 21% take packaged or modular holidays, 27% organise their own holidays and the rest buy partial services from local operators. These patterns could undergo significant shifts.

Similarly, although most Germans prefer to stay in hotels at the moment, increases in family travel would mean increased demand for apartment accommodation.

Dr Poon said that although the top five destinations are Spain, Italy, Turkey, Austria and Greece, the tour operator survey had forecast increased demand for the ‘new’ destinations in Asia, Africa and South America, mostly due to the pursuit of nature holidays, wide open spaces, history and culture.

At the same time, there would be a growth in cruise holidays, largely for the same reasons, as well as activity and sports-based tours, study/experience tours and personalised/individually-tailored holidays.

The increasing influence of technology will see a major shift in the booking patterns, with travel agencies losing influence to the Internet booking engines, direct bookings with suppliers of services in the destinations themselves and call centres.

In terms of demographics, the changing patterns will mean growth in the number of pensioners aged 65+ as well as in the number of “young seniors” aged 50-64.

One critical development will be an extremely high level of environmental consciousness. Asked if environmental protection would play an important role in their travel decisions in future, roughly 22% of the respondents fully or wholeheartedly agreed while 60% said they agreed generally or partially.

However, asked if they would be willing to pay more for travel for environmental protection, 46% said yes and 23% said no, while the rest were undecided.

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