Sunny Days for the German Tourism Industry? | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 13.05.2002
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Sunny Days for the German Tourism Industry?

Terrorist attacks and global recession – the year 2001 hasn’t been a good one for the tourist business world wide. But all is not lost. The German tourism industry is cautiously optimistic about the coming year.


A dream of a sight for the tourism trade

It doesn’t need an expert to point out that the September 11 attacks in the United States dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry world wide.

Within seconds of the attacks, stock indexes of airline and tour companies dipped dangerously low and flights within the US and to Islamic countries ran on empty.

The Germans turned their backs on some of their favourite holiday destinations– Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman.

Frankfurt airport, Germany’s largest, registered the biggest intercontinental traffic decline in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. In particular, flights to Islamic states, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as to the United States, were strongly affected.

Severe fallout just temporary

But contrary to most expectations, the slump turned out to be only temporary.

Similarly the general feeling among tourism industry experts and analysts is that the present sluggishness will soon blow over, and it will only be a matter of time before the travelbug-bitten Germans set off into the world.

Germany buffeted by global recession

But it’s not just the September 11 attacks that have struck fear into the hearts of passengers, but also the global slowdown that has taken its toll. Germany too has been vulnerable to world recession.

This year alone, about 34,000 small to medium sized firms declared bankruptcy and about 400,000 people lost their jobs as massive layoffs were announced. Germany’s unemployment rate might now jump above the four million mark.

Despair and optimism

Given this bleak economic scenario, it’s no wonder that most German tour companies aren’t too optimistic about the coming year.

But the TUI, the top European tourism brand within Preussag AG – one of the world’s leading tourism groups does see some light at the end of the tunnel.

TUI chief, Volker Böttcher believes that the Germans can’t be cured of their wanderlust. Bookings with the TUI have already picked up after more than three months after the terrorist attacks and the Preussag shares are recovering after a yearly low in September.

But things aren’t so rosy with the other European tourism giant, Thomas Cook with its brands –Neckermann, Condor, Aldiana.

Bookings have sunk 12 percent as compared to last year. The tourism group already reckons with a 15 percent slash in profits for the current business year. And it’s cautious with a prognosis for the coming year.

ITB will feel the aftershocks

And even the world’s biggest travel and tourism world trade fair, the ITB in Berlin will feel the reverberations of the general stagnation in the tourism industry when it takes place in March, 2002.

Tourism heavyweights such as Thomas Cook, the Rewe Group and the Munich Froschtouristik/FTI will be marked by their absence – all will stay away pleading financial problems.