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German holiday travel trends revealed, outlook for 2015 is positive

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

holiday couple beach

German holiday travel trends are revealed by the Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen (FUR). The annually conducted Reiseanalyse is considered to be the most detailed study of the German holiday market. The FUR is an independent association of users of tourism research in Germany and the largest non-commercial organizer and contractor of tourism research.

Travel expenditure reached new record highs in 2014: Spending on holiday trips (5 days and longer) increased by 5% compared to the previous year – to more than € 67 billion.

In addition, the expenditure for short holiday trips (2 to 4 days) amounts to almost € 20 billion.

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Other key figures remain quite stable and at a high level: Nearly 55 million holiday travelers took a total of more than 70 million holiday trips in 2014. With that the holiday travel propensity equaled more than 77%. That is the proportion of the population (70.5 million people: 14+ years, German-speaking in private households) who have undertaken at least one holiday trip of at least 5 days in one year. Furthermore, there were nearly 76 million short holiday trips (2 to 4 days) taken by 33 million travelers.

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The outlook for 2015 is positive.

At the beginning of the year most people in Germany are already in ‘holiday mood’. 55% of the population has concrete travel plans and only 11% are certain that they will not go on holiday in 2015. Most are planning with the same holiday budget as the previous year, 12% want to spend more than in 2014, and 9% want to spend less. All figures are either on or slightly above the previous year’s level.

For the actual realization of travel plans, the assessment of the individual’s economic situation and its future development is particularly important. And again, we find some cause for optimism compared to the beginning of 2014. In January 2015, 18% expected an improvement to their personal economic situation in the next 12 months and 10% a change for the worse. Most people did not expect any change.

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Holiday destinations: Growth potential for Germany

As in previous years, Germany was the most popular holiday destination in 2014, with a 31% market share of all holiday trips. There are many indications that domestic travel will grow even further in the coming years up to 2025. Within Germany there is, and will be, tough competition between Bavaria and Mecklenburg - West Pomerania for first place and between SchleswigHolstein and Lower Saxony for third place. Generally speaking, the coastal destinations have a certain advantage over the rural and mountain areas.

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If we look at travel destinations in terms of major regions, Germany as well as long-haul destinations, e.g. in Asia, have fairly good potential for growth, as do travel destinations in North-western Europe. The significance of the Mediterranean as a destination as a whole tends to remain stable. Spain remains the uncontested “top dog” with a current market share of more than 13%. Italy and Turkey are competing for the runner-up position. Austria is in fourth place. With an ongoing dynamic, Croatia and Greece can be expected to bump France from its current fifth place in the rankings of foreign destinations.

Holiday travel behavior

The most striking development in holiday travel behavior in 2014 can be seen in holiday spending. €958 per person and trip are a new record high. Against the long-term trend towards shorter holidays, holiday duration did not further decline but remained stable at 12.5 days. In regards to means of transport, the aircraft has gained further market share. Holiday accommodation was dominated by hotels, followed by holiday apartments and homes.

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Types of holiday

The most popular type of holiday 2014 was the beach / sunbathing holiday, followed by resting and nature holidays. The long-term trend shows a certain tendency away from the extremes (meaning “only” resting, “only” action or “only” culture). Today’s multi-optional traveler rather likes to mix different types of holiday, as long as they are not too monotonous or too strenuous. Consequently, types of holiday that fit into this scheme are on a growth path.

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Online bookings continue to grow

Currently, the package holiday remains the most important form of holiday organization, and the travel agency one of the most important booking channels. Even though a structural change in favor of single bookings, accommodation providers and internet portals is underway. The main driver behind this trend is the continuously growing number of online bookings, up from 11% of all pre-booked holiday trips in 2005 to 35% in 2014. It is expected that even before 2020 the majority of all holiday trips will be booked online.

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Mobile internet and holiday travel

In January 2015, 56% of the German-speaking population was using the mobile internet – more than four times as many people as only four years ago. Most of them (50% of the population) go online with their smartphone or tablet computer. On 45% of main holiday trips in 2014, people were travelling with and using their smartphones and tablet computers. This figure varies according to travel destination, age and income.

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High-end holiday travel

The number of travelers who don’t mind spending a lot of money on their holidays is constantly increasing. The volume of this high-end segment, defined as holiday trips with expenditure of more than € 3,000 per person, has doubled during the last decade, reaching 2.4 million trips in 2014. This equates to more than 3% of all holiday trips. Compared with the total holiday travel expenditure, the weight of the high-end segment is much larger: A total holiday expenditure of € 9.5 billion equals a market share of 14% of all holiday travel expenditure.

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Effects of holiday travel

For decades, relaxation and recuperation have been some of the most important motivations for going on a holiday trip. For the first time we are now able to cover the reported effects of main holiday trips 2014. The good news is that the vast majority of travelers return home recuperated. Almost half of the travelers report positive effects on their health. The same proportion experienced moments of genuine happiness during their trips.

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