Germans are more generous than ever when it comes to vacations

Despite economic uncertainties, vacation spending reached a record high last year, at around 63 billion euros for trips of five days or more. This was reported by the vacation and travel research association (FUR) at the world’s largest travel trade fair ITB in berlin, which began on wednesday. This corresponded to a plus of four percent. Every bundesburger loves to spend an average of 914 euros on his trip. The balearic islands remain the most popular destination.

The world’s largest branch meeting was opened for the first time the night before by german chancellor angela merkel. She praised the trade show with its 10,000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries. "Around the world in 80 days is passe. You can do it in 80 minutes at the ITB," said merkel. This year’s partner country is indonesia. Around 170,000 guests expected by sunday. Next weekend, the ITB will be open to the general public. Visitors can book trips for the first time.

Merkel called on germans to take vacations in their own country as well. Millions stay at home. But also mallorca and co. Last year, air travel again set a record with a 3.6 percent increase to 4.1 million passengers from germany. This is the result of the latest figures from the federal statistical office.

At alltours, too, demand is particularly strong for trips to majorca and the turkish riviera this summer. According to willi verhuven, head of alltours, 65 percent of the total volume of travel has already been booked for the current fiscal year. But just how difficult this has become is demonstrated by the announcement by the ailing travel group thomas cook that it is closing 195 travel agencies in the uk and cutting 2500 jobs.

Overall, the number of passengers from germany traveling to foreign destinations rose by 2.8 percent last year to 77.3 million. In europe, the greeks had to cope with the roughest jerks, from germany 2.06 million passengers still came to hellas, a tenth less than a year earlier according to the FUR travel study. But here, too, there are signs of a comeback: at alltours, "the trend is very encouraging," with a 30 percent increase for greece.

According to the FUR travel analysis, the outlook for 2013 is also positive. "55 percent of bundesburgers already have fixed vacation plans, only 12 percent are sure they don’t want to travel," said FUR study director martin lohmann. Travel spending expected to remain stable. Most want to spend as much as in 2012.

According to the german central office for tourism (DZT), short trips and city breaks in particular are becoming increasingly popular. Germans are also digging deeper into their pockets for short trips. According to the FUR, they spent 20.1 billion euros last year, compared with 18.7 billion euros the year before. The total volume of vacation trips was stable at just under 70 million trips.

Despite all the wanderlust, most germans stay at home on vacation. This applies to 31 percent of all vacation trips, according to the FUR analysis. Germany is more popular than ever as a travel destination for more and more foreigners. Germany has many plus points. "In a european comparison, the price-performance ratio is unbeatable," said petra hedorfer, head of the GNTB.

Shopping vacations are becoming more popular in this country: retailers recorded sales of 1.5 billion euros from foreign visitors from outside the EU, who can shop VAT-free – an increase of 46 percent. The sharp rise in the numbers of russians, arabs and swiss – and the new world travel champions, the chinese – made themselves felt here.

68.8 million overnight stays by foreign visitors – a record, according to the federal statistical office. The significant increase of 8.1 percent in 2012 brought a growth spurt for germany as a travel destination, as hedorfer said. Germans now book more than one in three trips in full or in part on the internet. In the 2011/2012 tourism year, online bookings rose by a good fifth to a share of just over 36 percent, according to the nurnberg-based market research company gfk. "For destinations such as the USA, great britain and france, online bookings already account for more than 50 percent of the total," he says.

The share of classic beach vacations, which account for a good fifth of pre-booked vacations, is almost on a par with bookings in stationary travel agencies. According to a travel study commissioned by the EU commission, 53 percent of europeans already book their travel destination on the internet. Most europeans are attracted to the sun. One in four primarily wants to go to the beach and warm weather, with spain, italy and france being particularly popular.

Despite travel enthusiasm, germans are sensitive to political and economic uncertainties in target countries, according to FUR. Among the losers so far have been greece, agypt and tunisia. Turkey and spain are the profiteers. Habib ammar, general director of the tunisian tourist office, was nevertheless confident at the ITB travel fair on wednesday: the recent political unrest in february may be a damper on current bookings, but he does not think it will make any difference to the main season.

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