TOU-I-6: Seasonal bed nights in German tourist areas

The picture shows a close-up of the sole of a walking shoe. The person is walking through autumn leaves.Click to enlarge
In future, spring and autumn might become more important for tourist regions in Germany.
Source: Photograph: © sasun Bughdaryan /

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents


TOU-I-6: Seasonal bed nights in German tourist areas

Primarily in the main season, the tourism industry exhibits high bed night figures in the Alps, alpine foothills and on the coast. In other tourist regions bed night numbers are distributed evenly across the year. As far as coastal tourism is concerned, there is a trend discernible towards more bookings in the off-peak season.

The line diagram depicts the ratio of overnight stays in the low season (III-V, X) and in the high season (VI-IX).
TOU-I-6: Seasonal bed nights in German tourist areas

The line diagram shows the ratio of overnight stays in the low season (III-V, X) and in the high season (VI-IX). The value 1 means equal distribution. The representation is differentiated for the coast, the low mountain ranges, the Alps and the Alpine foothills, the urban areas and other areas. The time series ranges from 2006 to 2017. All lines run to values below 1. The lines do not intersect. The lowest values are found in the Coast line (with a significantly increasing trend), followed by the Alps and Alpine foothills line (without trend), then the Other areas line (without trend), then the Central uplands line (without trend), and finally the Urban areas line (with a significantly decreasing trend). None of the lines, however, show major movements.

Source: StBA (monthly survey in tourism)

Are holiday seasons shifting?

The change in climatic conditions is associated with changes regarding the location specifics of tourism regions in Germany. Although traditional winter tourism will mainly entail risks, it seems reasonable to assume that the warm months of the year might produce not just risks but also opportunities regarding holiday destinations in Germany. There are several factors which might prove favourable, such as rising temperatures, lower precipitation from spring until autumn, as well as an increase in thermally comfortable conditions, especially at higher altitude in the mountains and also in coastal regions. Holiday regions might benefit from these changes, e.g. in terms of rising numbers of holidaymakers in the current off-season or by resulting in a longer summer season. On the other hand, changing weather patterns bear new risks such as drought and increased algal growth in bathing waters.

Destinations chosen primarily for the weather-dependent activities they offer and those that are closely bound up with the seasons, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is true for all travel regions in Germany whereas particular destinations characterised by city and culture tourism will be less affected. Coastal tourism in Germany is predominantly in demand in the main travel season from June until September. The number of overnight guests recorded for that period is almost twice that recorded for the off-peak season.

In the tourism regions of the Alps and the alpine foothills, the main season from June until September is equally important for overnight tourism. The significance of the winter season for alpine tourism manifests itself more strongly in day tourism and associated high value added especially in skiing resorts. The winter season’s share of annual bed nights amounts to just over 20 %.

The other tourist regions, i.e. the upland regions, urban areas and all other regions clearly enjoy more regular demand for overnight accommodation throughout the year. Especially tourism in urban areas is highly independent of the seasons. These regions benefit from the fact that local offerings are less dependent on the weather and changeable weather patterns and can be enjoyed all year  round. This includes e.g. culture tours, wellness tourism and other themed types of travel.

In all German tourism regions, the number of bed nights increased in recent years, especially in urban areas. So far, the increases in bed nights are distributed evenly over the main, off-peak and winter seasons. It has not been possible so far to identify a significant trend towards a shift in seasonal demand. However, the interpretation of figures in connection with climatic changes should always be approached with caution, because the number of bed nights in German travel areas – far from depending only on climatic conditions and associated changes – also depends on a great variety of other factors.

In connection with a project promoted in 2009 by the BMBF/Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung) research was done into a sustainable development of tourism in view of climate change. This project was piloted in coastal regions and in uplands. The outcomes show amongst other things that so far there is little public awareness of the impacts of climate change; as a result any adaptation required in the field of tourism has so far not been addressed as an important issue. Although there does seem to be a basic willingness to address the issue of climate change, the current focus is still on climate protection. And this factor is used as an opportunity to imbue touristic offerings with an environmentally friendly and innovative image.77

77 Matzarakis A., Möller A., Kreilkamp E., Carstensen I., Bartels C., Burandt S., Endler C. 2009: Anpassungsstrategien zum Klimawandel touristischer Pilotdestinationen in Küsten- und Mittelgebirgsregionen. In: Mahammadzadeh M., Biebeler H., Bardt H. 2009: Klimaschutz und Anpassung an die Klimafolgen – Strategien, Maßnahmen und Anwendungsbeispiele. Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Medien GmbH, Köln: 253–262.



TOU-I-2: Bed nights in coastal tourist areas

TOU-I-5: Bed nights in ski resorts