From wanderlust to flight shame: How will the travel summer of 2023 be?

Germans are very keen on vacations, as shown by surveys and booking figures from associations, analysts and tour operators.

From wanderlust to flight shame: How will the travel summer of 2023 be?

Germans are very keen on vacations, as shown by surveys and booking figures from associations, analysts and tour operators. The 2023 travel summer promises to be good for the industry, which is meeting this week (March 7th to 9th) in Berlin for the ITB travel fair. And how will he for vacationers? answers five key questions.

Where are people traveling to?

A classic is also very popular this summer: the Mediterranean. At the largest German tour operator TUI, the Turkish Riviera, Mallorca and the Greek islands are in the top 3. "Travellers from Germany are loyal to their favourites," said a spokesman.

These destinations are also among the most popular summer travel destinations for the air travel provider Alltours, and the Canary Islands and Egypt are also included.

The Anex Group paints the same picture with the brands Öger Tours, Neckermann Reisen, Anex Tour and Bucher Reisen: For all countries on the Mediterranean, advance bookings for the summer of 2023 are clearly up 115 percent on the previous year.

At the DER Touristik group, with the brands Dertour, ITS and Meiers Weltreisen, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Germany and Italy are particularly in demand on short and medium-haul routes. On long-haul routes, these are North America, destinations on the Indian Ocean and in the Caribbean, as well as Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

With regard to Germany, however, the information provided by the organizers varies between strong and less high demand. But that is not surprising. The reason: After the corona pandemic, when vacations in Germany were booming due to many travel restrictions, the conditions of the pre-corona period returned, as shown by a current travel analysis by the research association Holidays and Travel (FUR).

According to this, Germany was the number one travel destination for German citizens in 2022 with a share of 27 percent. 73 percent of trips went abroad. That could look similar this year.

Will traveling be more expensive this summer?

There is no general answer to this, for many areas the answer is: probably yes.

Example flight prices: According to a search query analysis by the travel search engine Kayak, flights for this summer (specifically: between June 1st and September 15th) have become significantly more expensive on average - in Europe from 244 euros (2022) to 298 euros (2023). Plus more than 20 percent. On the long-distance route, the increase from last summer to this summer was about the same. Prices climbed from an average of 738 to 893 euros.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr announced rising ticket prices for the current year on Friday.

According to a survey by the German Holiday Home Association and the German Tourism Association, holiday homes and apartments are also becoming more expensive. On average, their rent costs almost six percent more than in 2022. For around three out of five private and commercial landlords surveyed, the prices have increased for this year.

And with a view to package tours for the 2023 summer holidays, the travel booking and rating portal Holidaycheck had already written in December, based on its own price analysis, that they were “in some cases drastically more expensive”.

How can you save and is there something last minute?

In fact, last-minute bookings are looking rather bad. Alltours says, for example: Because of the increased demand in the 2023 summer season, there are not many last-minute bargains to be hoped for.

"Early bookers have an advantage today," said the Tui spokesman. Starting with the airlines, there is a paradigm shift in the entire industry, he explains: "With the low-cost airlines, early booking has long been cheaper than late booking, the hotels are adapting to this business logic. In this way, they can use their capacities more reliably."

The good news: In fact, there are still discounts for summer bookings, with many organizers offering early bird discounts until the end of March. However, if you are flexible in terms of travel destination and period as well as hotel classification, you definitely have a chance of last-minute bargains. However, if you have a very specific dream holiday in mind, you should not speculate on it.

Several tour operators are also registering increasing demand for all-inclusive offers. The Anex Group, for example, says: In Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, which have an all-inclusive share of more than 90 percent in the hotel portfolio, the trend can be seen clearly. "Because these holiday countries are showing particularly high growth and are particularly popular with families."

That makes perfect sense, because it gives you a certain amount of budget security when you know that there will be little or no additional cost for food and drinks on holiday.

Will there be chaotic conditions at the airports again?

Above all, a lack of personnel in air traffic caused considerable problems at the airports last summer and thoroughly spoiled the start of the holiday for many. Whether it will be like this again this summer or whether everything will be better cannot be said with certainty.

In any case, the staff bottlenecks in the industry have not been completely overcome. Lufthansa has cut its summer flight schedule. Motto: Better to create planning security now than having to cancel flights at short notice.

The North American travel specialist America Unlimited recorded a “rapid increase” in the number of direct flights booked this year. The explanation for this lies in the flight chaos in 2022: It is known from many customer discussions that holidaymakers avoid transfer airports and hubs for fear of a repeat - and also accept additional costs.

So while many tourists and holidaymakers are apparently also expecting waiting times and flight cancellations in 2023, the tour operator Alltours is quite optimistic about the summer of flights: "In our opinion, the airports have learned from the past and taken numerous measures." One is confident that the situation at the airports will normalize this year.

Speaking of flying: what about environmental awareness?

There is a lot of talk about traveling with an eye on the climate and sustainability. Only in booking practice does this seem to have little effect. For example, the current ADAC tourism study states that only five to ten percent of those surveyed are willing to pay even a small surcharge for sustainable services. Topics such as the carbon footprint of the trip also played a subordinate role when booking.

For tourism researcher Prof. Harald Zeiss from the Harz University of Applied Sciences, this is hardly surprising: it has been observed for years that people have stated in surveys that sustainability is important to them. It also has to do with social desirability. "However, when it comes to money, many people drop out." For this reason, the relevance of aspects of sustainability in the surveys always falls sharply as soon as it comes to the specific booking.

At TUI, the topic of sustainability is not yet being seen very strongly in bookings, but that is coming. "As with previous trends, this will start in the higher-end segment and establish itself from there across all offers," estimates the spokesman.

Sustainability is not necessarily an issue that causes costs, says tourism researcher Zeiss. "You can have a sustainable holiday that is not more expensive." For example, by not flying far away, but rather traveling close by, by giving preference to the train over the plane. "It's more a matter of personal preference than a question of wallet size."

The fact that, in addition to cruises, air travel in particular is often harmful to the climate seems to have receded into the background in the general perception given the current desire to travel after the restrictions imposed by Corona.

"I think we're still in a catch-up phase that will take a year or two," said Zeiss. "But we're going to get back into a kind of flight awareness phase where if you fly, you're going to be viewed increasingly critically by others." In which vacationers would dare less and less to talk about air travel experiences. "Because others may say: With your behavior you are damaging the environment that you want to enjoy."

He would not yet use the buzzword flying shame, which was widespread before the outbreak of the pandemic - but Zeiss believes that it will come back.