Tourism is making a comeback after the tough Corona years: Demand for destinations for the loveliest weeks of the year is increasing significantly despite the rise in inflation. The German travel industry sees itself on course for the record sales of the pre-pandemic year 2019. European tourism is hoping for more travelers from overseas, who made up about a quarter of the guests before the pandemic. However, vacationers have to be prepared for higher prices, last-minute bargain hunters for fewer offers.

“The bottom of the valley from 2021 has finally been passed,” said the President of the German Travel Association DRV, Norbert Fiebig, on Monday at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in Berlin. “We expect to close at the sales level of the record year 2019….”

According to the DRV, in the months of January and February, which were traditionally the busiest months for bookings before the pandemic, the demand for tour operators rose sharply this year. The number of new bookings in travel agencies and on online travel portals almost consistently exceeded the comparable weeks of the pre-Corona year.

“We are seeing a trend reversal: Those who want to take a holiday are booking much earlier again and are taking advantage of the current early booking discounts from travel providers,” reported the DRV President. “The travel industry is ready to take off in 2023.” But the industry needs stable, trouble-free air traffic for this, warned Fiebig.

Last year, the skyrocketing demand for air travel following the lifting of most corona restrictions had pushed the aviation industry to its limits. The consequences at German airports were delays and cancellations as well as long waiting times, for example at baggage claim and security checks.

In the 2021/2022 tourism year (November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022), holidaymakers in Germany booked package tours worth 25.9 billion euros, an increase of 148 percent compared to the previous year. This means that the value of the tour operators’ package and module trips is approaching the pre-Corona levels again. “The package tour is back,” said Fiebig.

THE Central Europe Head of Tourism Ingo Burmester sees two main reasons for the increasing demand: the pent-up desire to travel after the Corona crisis and a “renaissance” of package tours. Many vacationers wanted security. “This gives you the package tour, because we are also there if there are problems somewhere or, for example, flights are canceled,” said the manager.

Last-minute bargain hunters will probably have to brace themselves for more difficult times this year. “Hoteliers and airlines have become hesitant about last-minute bargains,” Burmester reported. According to tour operators, holidaymakers from Germany are currently trending towards higher-quality and slightly longer trips and all-inclusive trips, while prices are rising at the same time due to high inflation.

“Overall, the price increases roughly correspond to the increase in consumer prices,” said Burmester. “Of course, we pass on to our customers the lower prices that we negotiated well in advance when purchasing hotel and flight capacities.”

Industry leader Tui is also reporting increasing demand. “2023 promises to be a good travel year. We haven’t seen as many bookings as this January for a long time,” said Tui Germany boss Stefan Baumert. “The trend towards booking at short notice is still strong, but the early bookers are back and have already reserved the appropriate contingents.” Holidays continue to have top priority for many people.

According to FTI Group boss Ralph Schiller, many sun-seekers would like to treat themselves to something during their main holiday trip. “You’d rather save in other areas of life or limit yourself to the second or third trip a year.” Shorter city trips, for example, are currently less on the priority list.

According to a survey by the ADAC automobile club, around one in four Germans wants to save on vacation this year. According to this, 24 percent of those surveyed said that they would spend less money on a trip or do without it altogether. 23 percent will have a larger budget and 51 percent will have about the same amount of money.

European tourism worked its way out of the Corona low last year. However, travelers from overseas were still missing. According to the analysis house Tourism Economics, demand from travelers from China and Japan is likely to lag behind again this year. The number of tourist arrivals from North America was the closest to the 2019 level last year.

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the travel industry is meeting again this year in Berlin at the ITB. In contrast to the pre-Corona years, the travel fair (March 7th to 9th) is now only open to trade visitors.