Last week’s ITB Berlin tourism fair did not give the Croatian tourist industry what it wanted after a months-long pause in sales to the German tourists. Instead, in the first week of March, they received a worrying number: in four months, from early November 2018 to late February, nine per cent fewer travel packages were sold in Germany for all destinations than in the same period a year ago, reports Večernji List on March 11, 2019.
We can only try to guess what is happening with the significant travelling nation, which each year registers some fifty million travels. Turkey is popular this year, but surely not everyone is going there. Did the slowdown of the German economy make them think twice? Are they planning to stay in Germany, after the perfect summer weather last year?
There are many questions, and there was no optimism after the results of the annual major study Reiseanalyse were published. Researchers have corrected their earlier, more optimistic forecasts about 55 million travels by German citizens in 2019. They have concluded that the number of German tourists this year will be similar to last year’s 54.1 million.
They will also spend less on travel than in 2018 when the amount reached 72.7 billion euro. This year, they forecast 71.2 billion euro in tourist spending. On average, Germans will spend 1,017 euro on travels longer than five days, as opposed to last year’s 1,045 euro. All this is equally relevant to Mediterranean countries, which are all facing drops, with the exception to Turkey. The state currently has 25 to 30 per cent more bookings than last year.
“Yes, the slowdown in bookings is not just our problem. It is unusual that at this time so many German citizens, who are usually among the first to decide on their holidays, have not yet made that decision. The tension is growing. Spain has already reacted by lowering prices, and I would say that a price war could be expected in the Mediterranean this season. It is a battle which we cannot win, and for us, the key is the ratio between quality and price. Those who have not offered the right value for money will have to consider making price corrections. Although it should not be done overnight, we have another month to see how the situation will develop,” said Boris Žgomba, president of the Association of Travel Agencies at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, saying that the booking for Croatia is currently weaker by three to ten per cent.
Most Mediterranean tourist countries have also increased their promotion budgets. This was recently done by Croatia as well, which allocated an additional 2.5 million kuna for the German market. Is it enough or should the amount be increased will be monitored during the next ten days.
Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli is convinced that Croatian tourism will welcome 2.9 million guests from Germany in 2019, the same number as last year. He also advised the tourist industry not to lower the prices.
“Croatia has become a competitive destination in the world’s tourist market primarily because of the quality it offers to its visitors. This is supported by the fact that so far this year there are 14 per cent more tourist overnights from Germany. That is why we need to work on improving the quality of the tourist offer, whose value will surely be recognised by our guests. Based on the news coming from the largest tourist fairs, I believe that in the current year we will continue to achieve positive results while retaining the image of a quality tourist destination” said Cappelli.
More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.
Translated from Večernji List (reported by Radmila Kovačević).