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The Whitsun holidays in southern Germany – the ‘second peak season’

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The Whitsun holidays in southern Germany are a great opportunity to optimise capacity utilisation during the season. The target group is large and has a lot of purchasing power. Campsites that prepare for these guests at an early stage and offer many services and online bookings for the Whitsun period will benefit. Find out more about the great potential of the ‘second peak season’, the Whitsun holidays in southern Germany.

Full hotels and campsites in May or early June, especially on the Adriatic, the Mediterranean and in the Italian Alps – the Whitsun holidays in the two southernmost German states, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, are particularly popular. This is when many southern German families with schoolchildren treat themselves to a week or two of holiday in the early season, often in addition to the summer holidays. Traditionally, the Whitsun holidays in Germany only last a full two weeks in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Pupils in other federal states usually only have a few days off at Whitsun.

A large market with good incomes and a short journey

A look at the data available for 2022 from the Federal Statistical Office on shows that Around 13.4 million people live in Bavaria and around 11.3 million in Baden-Württemberg. Both federal states together have around 24.7 million inhabitants. Most of them live in one of the approximately 3.6 million families with children. Bavarians and Baden-Württembergers make up around 29% of the German population.

According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, they are even more important in terms of economic power: Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg generated around 33% of Germany’s gross domestic product in 2022. Major companies, for example from the mechanical engineering, automotive and IT sectors, are based in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg – especially in the greater Munich and Stuttgart areas as well as in other southern German conurbations. People in southern Germany earn correspondingly well: salaries in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have been well above the national average for years.

Another factor that favours the strong demand from southern German states is the favourable geographical location. Camping regions where very warm weather can be expected as early as May and June are easily accessible – such as northern Italy, Croatia or southern France. For many Bavarians and Baden-Württembergers, it has been a tradition since childhood to book their Whitsun holidays at a campsite on the Adriatic, Lake Garda or in similar regions.

Thanks to the southern German Whitsun holidays – two weeks high season in May or June!

In 2024, 2025 and 2026, as in most previous years, the southern German Whitsun holidays include the two weeks following the Whitsun weekend. In 2024, the Whitsun holidays will run from 21 May to 31 May (in Baden-Württemberg) and 1 June (in Bavaria). This means that families with school-age children can actually book a full two weeks – from Saturday 18 May to Saturday 1 June 2024.

This also encourages southern German families to go on holiday during the Whitsun holidays: The public holidays Whit Monday and Corpus Christi fall during this period. Many working parents will therefore only have to apply to their employers for eight days‘ holiday instead of the usual ten in order to enjoy a full two weeks’ holiday.

Not only children in other German federal states, but also schoolchildren in other major European source markets often only have a few days off school at Whitsun. As a result, many campsites that welcome no or few southern German families are not so well utilised in early summer. Demand there is often concentrated on the weekends, especially the Whitsun weekend or Ascension Day. Longer stays in early summer at these campsites are mainly booked by guests with children who are not of school age or campers travelling without children. However, their demand is often not enough to fill the campsite to capacity.
On the other hand, those who target Whitsun holidaymakers from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg can achieve occupancy rates similar to those in the summer holidays. For these campsites, the Whitsun holidays in southern Germany are increasingly becoming a fixed factor in their seasonal calculations.

Where Whitsun holidaymakers go – the PiNCAMP analysis provides answers

We analysed the campsite bookings on PiNCAMP with arrival dates in May 2024, in which German guests account for the largest share. Most guests opt for a campsite in Germany (34%), followed by Italy (17%), Croatia (16%), France (11%) and the Netherlands (7%). In terms of regions, the camping and coastal states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein dominate in Germany. However, it can be assumed that there are also many short bookings here, for example only for the Whitsun weekend.
What is striking: In Italy, Croatia and France, the regions that are traditionally visited by many Whitsun holidaymakers are experiencing strong demand – often with a booking period of 7, 10 or 14 days. The proximity to southern Germany and the camping capacities are apparently also fuelling demand: Italy’s upper Adriatic coast and regions where most of the campsites are located on the Upper Italian lakes account for almost 60% of all Italian bookings – Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Emilia-Romagna.

In Croatia, campsites in Istria are the frontrunners in terms of bookings in May, accounting for 55% of all Croatia bookings and 9% of all bookings. Classic Whitsun holiday destinations also dominate in France: 29% of all French bookings for May are concentrated at campsites close to the Mediterranean – on the Côte d’Azur, in Provence and in Occitania, in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Despite the dominance of the south as a destination for southern German Whitsun holidaymakers, there is also potential for campsites in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and other holiday destinations to increasingly appeal to southern German families – for example with rental accommodation that is not weather-dependent and attractive indoor offers. Climate change and high prices are also contributing to southern German holidaymakers choosing other holiday destinations that are new to them instead of the Adriatic & Co.

High capacity utilisation, high prices – the Whitsun holidays are no longer low season

Many campsite operators open almost all leisure and service facilities such as pools, children’s clubs, shops and restaurants during the Whitsun holidays in southern Germany. Most guests now also expect this. At very popular campsites, southern German families often book years in advance to secure their pitch or mobile home for the Whitsun holidays.
In line with the high demand, overnight prices are almost at peak season level. The PiNCAMP price analysis clearly shows that May is no longer a low-turnover low season – probably mainly thanks to the Whitsun holidays. For bookings of one week, an average of 34 euros per night was achieved for pitches in Europe, and 93 euros per night for rental accommodation.

Top revenue per night in Croatia and Italy

A comparison of the average prices in 28 European destination countries for arrivals in May also shows the potential: Croatia is the undisputed leader for one-week bookings of rental accommodation with an average price of 167 euros per night. Italy is in the top group at 117 euros and climbs to seventh place out of 28.
In the European ranking of pitch prices for arrivals in May, Croatia and Italy are also well ahead at €40 and €37 per night respectively. Only Switzerland, Portugal and the Benelux countries achieve higher overnight prices in May.

When do campers book their May and Whitsun holidays?

Around 36% of the PiNCAMP online bookings with an arrival date in May 2024 were made in January or February. Most, typically camping, book at very short notice: around 39% bookings for May were made in April. Campsite operators who book online now can therefore still benefit from the May rush.

However, early bookings are also important for campsite planning. Above all, they generate high turnover: guests who booked a May holiday on PiNCAMP in January spent 337 euros per booking, 60% more than guests who opted for a May stay in April. They spent 210 euros per booking. Holidaymakers who booked in February for May also generated sales per booking that were 37% higher than those who booked at short notice.

The most important facts in brief:

  • Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are the only German states to have a two-week Whitsun holiday every year, usually after the Whitsun weekend.
  • The two federal states account for almost a third of the German population and have above-average incomes.
  • Campsites that cater to these target groups can significantly increase their capacity utilisation in May or June.
  • Campsites that can be booked online early increase their planning security and can generate high-revenue Whitsun holiday bookings.