Last week, the Berlin travel industry fair celebrated its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic with robust demand that has thus far overcome high inflation rates.
After a three-year break caused by the pandemic crisis, the industry gathering returned with 5,500 exhibitors from 161 countries visiting the German capital. Julia Simpson, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, declared during the event that travel was coming back. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that there were about 900 million more foreign visitors in 2022 than there were the year before.
Arrivals were down 67 percent overall from pre-pandemic levels, with an increase of up to 80 percent in Europe. In some nations, “we are already at a similar level to 2019,” according to Alessandra Priante, head of UNWTO Europe.
“The savings generated by a big segment of the public during the pandemic lockdowns have yet to be fully spent and are coming into the sector,” claimed Clemens Fuest, director of the Ifo Institute, an economic think tank.
Another benefit has been the elimination of China’s rigorous zero-COVID policy, which restricted movement into and out of the country. In the years before the epidemic, 15% of all tourists were Chinese.
Delegates from the Pacific islands and central Asia paraded down the aisles of the exhibition dressed in traditional attire, creating a festive mood. “All of our clients have returned,” said Lukas Knauber, 23, a spa hotel employee from Germany, to AFP.
In spite of excruciatingly high inflation in many regions of the world, fortunes have continued to improve. In the eurozone, consumer prices increased by 8.5 percent in February and are expected to continue to rise.
But, the upward trend might not continue for very long. “In 2023, many consumers were able to declare, “I’m going, even though my purchasing power has decreased. Nevertheless, that probably won’t be the case in 2024, according to Fuest.
Because of inflation, consumer behaviour is already changing. According to the German tourism industry association DRV, more and more tourists are “booking early in the year to profit from discounts” in Germany. According to Stefan Baumert, the group’s lead for Germany, one in two customers at travel giant Tui select the all-inclusive option to better control their spending.