FRANKFURT, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Summer bookings to Turkey by German holidaymakers have doubled, though are still far from the levels seen a few years ago, German market researcher GfK said on Wednesday.
Tourists, a major source of financing for Turkey’s wide current account deficit, are starting to return to the country after attacks blamed on Islamic State and Kurdish militants and an attempted coup scared them away for a couple of years.
Bookings for Turkey from Germany for summer 2018 were up 101 percent at the end of January from a year ago, GfK data showed. But the volume of bookings was still only about half of that for Greece, reversing the pattern seen a few years ago.
“But if we assume that nothing further happens to keep people away, then Turkey should return to former strength in a year or two,” Doerte Nordbeck, head of Travel & Logistics Germany at GfK, told journalists at a news conference ahead of the world’s biggest travel fair in Berlin next week.
Germans’ summer bookings for Greece were 40 percent higher than a year ago by the end of January, helping the country overtake the Balearic islands as Germans’ most popular holiday destination, she said, citing booking data from travel agencies and online portals.
Bookings for the Balearic islands were up 3 percent. Egypt also continued its comeback, with bookings up 64 percent.
Norbert Fiebig, president of German travel association DRV, said holidaymakers were returning to Turkey because the security situation and political tension appeared to be easing and it was more affordable than comparable destinations.
“In Turkey they can get an all-inclusive holiday in a five-star hotel for a price at which they would have trouble finding something with three or four stars in Spain,” he said.
Europe’s largest travel group TUI said this month, when asked about the effect of recovering bookings for Turkey on margins, that the focus there was currently on building volume.
Overall, Germans’ summer bookings by the end of January were 18 percent higher than a year ago. DRV expects bookings for 2017-18 to end up roughly around 5 percent higher than a year earlier, when Germans took 4 percent more trips.
Germans’ spending on travel bookings should also grow, after jumping 8 percent to a record 64.7 billion euros ($79 billion) in 2016/17, excluding expenses made during their trips.
Germany is the world’s third-largest spender on foreign travel behind China and the United States.
$1 = 0.8183 euros Reporting by Maria Sheahan Editing by Mark Potter