Tourists are still very interested in Luxembourg, studies show
The coronavirus has done nothing to reign in Europeans’ – and in particular, as studies reveal, Germans’ – fondness for travel. Travel motivations and preferences have overwhelmingly remained the same, or even been influenced by the pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions that make careful planning essential. These findings come from several studies on travel intentions in the next six to twelve months, in which Luxembourg for Tourism is currently involved.
The studies show that the core factors behind demand for travel remain. A good half of Germans say that they will have the time and money to travel in the next twelve months. According to the September survey, wanderlust has increased by 53% since May, almost reaching last year’s level.
This is also reflected in the amount of concrete holiday plans being made: 56% of people want to travel in the next twelve months regardless of the circumstances. According to a European Travel Commission (ETC) study in early October, this figure for Germany and other source markets lies between 40% and 60% for autumn/winter 2020/21. “However, for the coming months, there is still uncertainty as to when these trips can actually start and where people will be able to go,” says Alain Krier, Head of Research & Media Management at Luxembourg for Tourism.
Demand for rest and relaxation holidays up, business trips down
What kind of trips do clients want to take? The data shows that long-term interests and desires remain largely unchanged. "Beach and R&R holidays are still in demand, as are nature holidays. Moreover, hiking and seaside resort trips are in greater demand than before," Krier concludes. City trips haven’t fallen by the wayside either: they are the second most requested type of holiday for the autumn/winter. Unlike the “Deutsche Reiseanalyse" (German Travel Analysis), the ETC study also examined non-leisure trips, finding that 8% of Europeans intend to make a business trip by March 2021 – far fewer than usual. This lays bare the plummeting demand in this segment.
Luxembourg: growing interest in holidays closer to home
There is also a slight shift towards more local travel destinations for 2021, and Luxembourg could benefit from this as it is easy to reach from its main source markets. 3% of Belgians and Dutch, 2% of French and 1% of Germans plan to visit Luxembourg between now and April 2021. “In total, about 2.3 million Europeans are considering travelling to Luxembourg in the coming winter months,” according to Krier.
The information sources used by travellers have changed considerably. Neutral, generalised information sources (such as news, the Robert Koch Institute and the German Foreign Office) are now consulted as a priority over classic tourist literature. Travellers want reliable and up-to-date information, especially as there is a lot of uncertainty due to travel restrictions, border closures and quarantine requirements.
Off the beaten track
There has been a major decrease in the time between when travellers plan and book their trips and when they actually go on them. Before the coronavirus pandemic, about 30% of travellers started thinking about their trips less than three months in advance. This figure is now 62%, of whom 22% book less than four weeks before the start of their trip.
There are opportunities for growth in the sustainable travel sector, away from mass tourism. About a third of travellers would be willing to pay more to go to a less-travelled destination.
While hygiene measures at the destination naturally play a key role, travellers are currently most preoccupied about financial risks and whether their trips will ultimately go ahead (60%), while concerns about actually becoming infected are somewhat lower. This underlines the importance of having flexible cancellation policies and return guarantees.
Interest in travel remains
Despite the uncertainty, the demand for travel remains high. "Travel is a basic need for many people, and they want to satisfy their wishes even more now," says Krier. People are hoping for a return to normal in this aspect in the summer of 2021. Indeed, many people intend to travel this autumn/winter; however, due to current travel restrictions and – to a greater extent – bookings made extremely close to travel dates, there is a lot of uncertainty.
"From the perspective of travel companies, the will is there, as is the capacity to some extent. From a client’s perspective, the studies show that the money and motivation are there – but the pandemic and the resulting health and legal restrictions are limiting and preventing business as usual," says Dr Sebastian Reddeker, CEO of LFT. "So it is very difficult to translate this demand into action – in this case, travelling."
As the ETC also recently noted in its travel intentions study, having harmonised and transparent travel rules Europe-wide is a key criterion for transforming clients’ wanderlust into actual bookings.
The ETC study will continue on a monthly basis until at least February 2021, while the "Deutsche Reiseanalyse" is expected to be updated in November. It will be interesting to analyse whether the huge recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections and the renewed lockdown measures will influence demand, and if so, how much.
"Study on Monitoring Sentiment for Intra-European Travel, European Travel Commission", monthly measurement of travel intentions in 10 European source markets.
"RA 2021, Corona Recovery Modul 09/2020; Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen e. V.", study of travel behaviours of German residents.