The assault at the Christmas market in Berlin may scare some travelers off, but it won’t dampen UAE residents’ appetite for European or Schengen holidays.
The Schengen countries are among the most popular destinations for UAE residents, with holiday bookings for places like Austria, Prague, Switzerland, France and Germany surging around Christmas or New Year, as well as during summer.
Although the UAE is a relatively small source market for Germany, the number of UAE residents traveling there has been growing, with outbound trips from the UAE estimated to increase in 2017 by 3 per cent from 69,100 this year.
Suicide bombers and terrorist groups have been carrying out attacks in popular holiday destinations, including France, Belgium, Turkey and Indonesia. Such public attacks have put a toll on travel and tourism, with the assaults in Paris alone costing the French economy about $1 billion in tourism revenue during the first half of 2016.
According to Euromonitor International, Berlin is the most-visited city in Germany. In 2015, it welcomed 4.9 million visitors from around the world, while second-ranked Munich welcomed 3.3 million.
“While Berlin is the most visited city in Germany, we consider that travel flows from UAE will remain stable,” Euromonitor research analyst Rabia Yasmeen told Gulf News. Yasmeen noted that during the past two years, they have observed similar incidents being reported in the Western European market, but that the impact on tourism has been insignificant, mainly communicated through short-term effects.
“In the long run, it may impact the kind of attractions attended by tourists, but it will not impact the travel flows to Germany.”
Travel agents contacted by Gulf News said they have yet to receive any cancellation requests from customers who have booked European trips for Christmas and New Year. “We do not anticipate cancellation on booked passengers to Germany as most are treating this incident as an isolated case and hopefully the authorities will tighten their vigil and prevent further incidents from occurring,” said Premjit Bangara of Sharaf Travel.
Wouter Geerts, travel analyst at Euromonitor, said that terrorist attacks usually have a short-term impact on travel and tourism.
“This is sadly not the first attack in German or Europe this year, and it once again confirms that we live in turbulent times. We have seen a similar attack in Nice earlier this year, and the attack in Paris on the Bataclan and other areas at the end of 2015. What these incidents showed is that tourism is impacted in the short-term, but that countries like France and Germany in the long-term are seen as sufficiently safe as travel destinations,” said Geerts.
“Christmas markets are a big attraction for German cities, including Berlin, and this attack will no doubt impact the amount of visitors for the remainder of this year. However, I do not believe that this attack will significantly impact tourism to Germany and Berlin in 2017.”
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