The tourism sector is preparing to live a year of record numbers or at least at levels similar to those of the pre-pandemic, despite the uncertainties derived from inflation and the impacts of the war in Ukraine on the global economy.
The International Tourism Fair (ITB) opened its doors, with its 5,500 exhibitors from 161 countries and the will to impress optimism on a sector hard hit by the mobility restrictions imposed by the covid.
“Winter reservations are at full capacity and we expect a good to very good summer,” said the CEO of the German giant TUI, Stefan Baumert, whose forecast is to exceed the figures for 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
Alltours, one of the largest tour operators in Germany, reported a 20% increase in vacation package reservations for next summer compared to the previous year.
The takeoff of “all-inclusive” vacations is one of the responses of the average consumer to inflation, which in Germany stood at 8.6% year-on-year this January, while among the Baltic countries – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – it is between 18 and 19%.
“Citizens don’t want to give up another year of vacation, but they don’t want surprises either. In this way, we return to the ‘no surprises’ vacation format, in terms of additional expenses in restaurants, etc., ” explained Willi Verhuven, owner of Alltours.
Spain, a great recipient of German tourism, already perceives 2023 as the year of tourism recovery until reaching pre-pandemic levels, despite the volatility derived from the war in Ukraine.
“The year started magnificently for tourism and we hope it brings us good news, and soon, regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine. We expect it not only because of its impact on the economy, but above all on a humanitarian scale,” said the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Rosana Morillo, from Berlin.
Since the beginning of the year, “an acceleration of tourist reservations” began to be registered, Morillo pointed out. Since January itself there has been a spectacular rise in visitor arrivals: Spain received 4.1 million foreign tourists, according to figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE), which represents a year-on-year increase of 65.8%.
According to data presented by the German Tourism Federation (DRV), the return to tourist normality began to be noticed the previous season, when the restrictions on tourist travel in the whole of Europe were lifted.
The Germans spent a total of €58.6 billion on travel in 2022, compared to €28.8 billion in 2021, but that volume was still around 17% below the years before the pandemic.
By 2023, the DRV estimates that the levels of previous years will have already been reached, such as the €69.5 billion registered in 2019.
The entire ITB is committed to this desire to “return” to normality, after successive editions of the fair in virtual formats due to the restrictions derived from a pandemic, which wreaked havoc in the sector.
The return to face-to-face and reflection on sustainable tourism dominated the presentations at the ITB of the different Spanish regions, such as the Balearic Islands, one of the reference destinations for the “world champion” in terms of travel desires, Germany. .
“These have been very complex years”, admitted the president of the Balearic Government, Francina Armengol, from the Balearic pavilion of the ITB, which occupies some 600 square meters.
The season has started “very well”, with some “figures that are with us”, he said, and that also show that it is achieving the objective of seasonally adjusting the tourism sector to reinforce the low and medium season.
“You have to bet on quality, not quantity,” he insisted, to recall that the new tourism law, already in operation, marks a very clear line in the direction of sustainability.
“We are going to continue betting on German tourism, which is a conscious tourism and which is the most faithful we have in the low season and in the middle season,” said Armengol.
The general director of Tourism of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Marta Domènech, pronounced in a similar sense: “the German market is the third among those who visit us in Catalonia and a highly diversified type of client, as much as our tourist offer”.