German market trends:
Sustainable tourism: According to FVW, the German travel industry has launched new initiatives to promote more bookings of sustainable holidays and overcome consumer reluctance to put well-meaning words into action. There is a massive “green gap” between the words and actions of German consumers when it comes to booking sustainable travel. Over 70% of holidaymakers said they pay a lot of attention to sustainability (17.5%) or would like their holiday to be sustainable (53.7%) in a large-scale consumer survey last year by the Green Travel Transformation initiative. But sustainability was only a key aspect of the actual holiday booking for 6.7% and one factor among many for 26%, while 46% put more importance on other issues and 21% did not take account of “green” issues at all. The main problem is that 75% of consumers believe “sustainable holidays” are automatically more expensive, the survey showed. The German travel industry, led by the DRV and the Futouris organisation for sustainable travel, has launched a new initiative called the “Green Travel Transformation” (GTT) to try to simplify the situation, make offers more transparent and encourage more bookings. A green leaf symbol now marks sustainable holiday offers in the Bistro booking system for travel agents and the printed brochures of Thomas Cook and FTI. The symbol covers 13 different green certification schemes that meet the standards of the Global Sustainable Travel Council, including hotels, incoming agencies and destination services suppliers.
Overtourism: The continuing growth of global tourism is increasingly causing problems such as overcrowding and congestion in various destinations around the world, writes FVW. Top destinations such as Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona have all faced challenges once again this summer coping with the flood of holidaymakers arriving by plane, car or cruise ship. German Tourism Federation (BTW) president Michael Frenzel, the former long-serving TUI CEO and ex-WTTC chairman who is also now a WTTC ‘global ambassador’, declared: “Overtourism is a specific problem and not a wildfire, even if this impression is increasingly given.” Instead, the BTW called for a public debate that will help clearly affected destinations to solve their problems without taking away the public’s general wish to travel. “We need solutions that take the discontent of the population and tourists seriously, solve them and ideally prevent similar problems in other places,” Frenzel said. Such solutions include better destination management and investments to steer visitor flows, diversification with new routes and excursions, longer holiday seasons and more offers for the off-season, according to the association.
Record passenger numbers for international flights: According to the Federal Statistical Office, 56.5 million people flew from German major airports in the first six months, 2.5 percent more than in the same period of the previous year. However, the number of domestic passengers decreased by five percent to 11.3 million. Passenger traffic abroad, however, increased by 4.6 percent to 45.2 million.
Antalya overtakes Majorca for German online bookings: As FVW reports, online bookings for holidays on the Turkish Riviera are up by 24% so far this year, according to figures from leading reservations IT provider Traveltainment, the German association for online travel sales (VIR) said this week. Majorca has dropped back to second place. Third-placed Hurghada is also growing strongly with a 62% rise in online bookings this year, the association said. Other popular destinations for Germans booking through the internet include Rhodes, Crete, the Canaries and Bulgaria.
Tour operator news:
German package travel law: Among various changes under the law, which entered force on July 1, consumers have more legal protection for ‘combined’ travel agency bookings of separate travel products from different suppliers (such as flights and hotels). Leading tour operators, including TUI, Thomas Cook and DER Touristik, responded to the new law by turning hotel-only bookings into ‘package holidays’ from a legal point of view and adding free ‘service packages’ (e.g. destination services). This meant that such bookings were automatically fully covered by tour operator insolvency protection guarantees. As a result, travel agents were instructed to hand over tour operator insolvency insurance certificates to customers for such bookings, a move giving tour operators a competitive advantage over direct bookings of hotels or holiday homes, which are not legally defined as package holidays. But uncertainty has increased whether the so-called ‘voluntary package holidays’ are covered under the new law or not. The German justice ministry told fvw earlier this month that a ‘package holiday’ must include at least two elements out of transportation, accommodation and vehicle rental for the same trip. Many travel agents worried that they were breaking the law by handing out insurance certificates for ‘voluntary packages’. In response, Thomas Cook decided this week to stop turning hotel-only bookings into package holidays from September 1 onwards. Among other major tour operators, TUI apparently plans to maintain its ‘voluntary package holidays’, which combine a single product booking with a service package, all while meeting the legal requirements, according to a spokesperson. FTI took a slightly different approach and is insuring the single product bookings separately. Turkey specialist Bentour said it expects other tour operators to follow Thomas Cook’s lead due to the legal uncertainty. DER Touristik has already indicated it will review the situation.
TUI increases flight frequency for autumn school holidays: Germany’s largest tour operator reacts on the high demand for destinations like Turkey, Egypt, Mallorca and Gran Canaria and adds 14,000 flight seats to the current portfolio. Departure airports are Berlin-Tegel, Hamburg, Hannover and Cologne.
Settlement between Ryanair and union Forsa: Ryanair Holdings Plc reached a new labor deal with protesting Irish pilots. Shares of Ryanair rose the most in three months in Dublin, where the company is based, following 22 hours of discussions that finished early Thursday. The accord will now be put to a ballot of pilots, with the Forsa labor group, which led the talks, recommending that they accept it. The Irish discussions focused on promotion, annual leave and Ryanair’s ability to switch pilots between its different bases, as well as pay. The company said via Twitter that it will take the proposals to its board for approval once the pilots have voted. The Vereinigung Cockpit pilot union in Germany said immediately after the Irish announcement that it was unaware of the agreement. The labor group isn’t involved in mediation of its own right now and “must wait and see what the next days will bring,” a spokesman said.
Air Baltic with new direct flight between Stuttgart and Riga: The flight frequency is four times a week, starting 31st March 2019. This will be the sixth direct flight connection between Germany and the Baltic states.
American Airlines launches nonstop connection to the US: According to touristik aktuell, from 7th June to 28th September 2019 the US airline will offers four weekly flights from Berlin-Tegel to Philadelphia. Additionally, American Airlines will increase the flight frequency from Munich Airport, by adding one daily flight to Dallas (June – October 2019) and one daily flight to Charlotte (starting end of March 2019), whereas the connection Munich-Philadelphia will be cancelled by 30th March 2019.