Vaccination rates are increasing and most travel restrictions in Europe have fallen: Holidaymakers and the tourism industry are hoping for recovery after months of corona lockdown. Tour operators report a booking boom.
Some popular travel destinations could get tight during the summer vacation. However, it will take some time before tourism leaves the severe corona crisis behind. The spread of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is also causing concern. The German Medical Association advises against traveling to vacation areas where the variant is rampant.
Lifting the quarantine conditions triggers a booking boom
“A real booking boom set in from mid-May 2021, and we are currently recording receipts from week to week at or above the level of the comparable period 2018/19,” reports the managing director of the travel company FTI, Ralph Schiller. Above all, the lifting of the quarantine requirements after returning from vacation has spurred demand.
The development is similar with other large tour operators. “In the last few weeks, sales are still higher than in 2019 before the pandemic,” reports DER tourism manager Sven Schikarsky. The travel company is increasing its quotas for airlines and hotels every day. According to Schiller, the rush to certain destinations on popular dates and high-quality room types in highly sought-after hotels can lead to bottlenecks.
In addition to Spain and Greece, the Alps and the Baltic Sea coast are popular destinations
The classic bathing destinations on the Mediterranean Sea are currently in demand in summer, above all Spain and especially Mallorca as well as Greece and Turkey.
As in the summer of the crisis year 2020, vacation between Rügen and Garmisch-Partenkirchen is very popular. “It will be full on the coast and towards the Alps,” said the President of the German Tourism Association (DTV), Reinhard Meyer. But other regions also benefited. “Everything that has to do with nature, for example hiking or cycling, is particularly popular.”
Summer vacation more expensive than before the crisis
For overnight stays in Germany, according to an evaluation of the comparison portal Check24 this summer, vacationers have to dig deeper into their pockets than before the crisis. “Basically, the prices are higher in the summer months during the holiday season. The corona pandemic and the greater desire for a holiday in Germany intensify this effect,” explains Check24 manager Jan Kuklinski.
On average, holiday apartments cost around 108 euros per night in June, July and August 2021, which is 18.6 percent more than in the three summer months of the pre-crisis year 2019. The price increase is a good 24 percent for hotels. On average, vacationers have to pay around 113 euros per night this summer.
Vacationers more generous than usual
However, the willingness of holidaymakers has also increased to spend more money – for example for nicer hotels or higher categories, as Tui Germany boss Marek Andryszak recently said. The guests spent around 25 percent more on their vacation than in 2019.
At the end of May, the trips booked with tour operators and travel agencies exceeded the level of the crisis summer 2020 by 33 percent. Many vacationers decide at short notice. “The desire to finally be able to travel again is obviously great, and travel relief and increasing vaccination rates are spurring the vacation business”, explains Alexandra Weigand from the analysis company Travel Data + Analytics (TDA).
Nevertheless: tour operators have fewer bookings than normal
But it will take time before tour operators and agencies can match old records. Despite the strong demand, according to the travel association DRV, only around a quarter of the bookings made in a “normal” year are in the books of the companies until the end of May / beginning of June.
“Even if the summer remains positive, only around 40 percent of sales from the pre-Corona year 2019 will be achieved in the end,” says DRV President Norbert Fiebig, dampening expectations that are too high – also because long-distance travel in the second half of the year is often not yet will be possible.
The companies therefore needed further support from the federal government. “An extension of the bridging aid beyond September 30th until the end of 2021 would have been politically wise and meaningful in terms of content,” says Fiebig.