The future of tourism

The future of tourism – between consistency and new influencing factors

The future of tourism is secure: the Germans are and will remain world champions of travel. Once again in 2012, German citizens would prefer to tighten their belts when it comes to everyday expenses rather than spend the “best weeks of the year” at home. For most Germans, holidays are, and will remain, the highlight of the year. In particular, childless couples and youthful senior citizens (“best agers”) will prove to be the most enthusiastic travel groups in the future. Both groups are relatively free to do what they wish with their time, they have money and they are independent, allowing them to continue to visit familiar holiday resorts and discover new travel destinations. In contrast, the future of tourism in the family segment remains uncertain. Compared to the 2010 travel season, the percentage of travellers in these population groups declined by two percentage points in 2011. The family holiday is seen increasingly as a luxury good, which only half of all families will be able to afford in future.

Similarly, there is a risk that the divide between travellers and non-travellers will continue and will even be deepened. While those with less formal education and low-earning citizens are finding it harder and harder to afford a holiday, the issue for well-educated, higher earners is not whether they will travel but only how often, where and for how long. Taking the time to go on a holiday will pose a greater challenge for this target group than the cost incurred by the holiday.

Long-haul destinations remain attractive to the majority of Germans as dream destinations, even though only a minority of the population can afford to finance such holidays. Accordingly, this market segment will remain an interesting addition in the long term but will not really constitute an alternative to German and European tourist areas. Apart from cost, time is the main obstacle. At an average of just under 19 days in the desired location, a holiday outside Europe lasts almost one week longer than trips to European destinations (13 days) and almost twice as long as trips within Germany (10 days). Asian holiday destinations – from China to Thailand to India – will continue to gain market share. And while North America and the Caribbean can expect stable visitor figures, North African destinations will first have to win back trust again before they reach their pre-crisis level.

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