How the political parties in Germany are sacrificing an entire industry sector to get re-elected
2021 is an election year in Germany. No wonder that the pandemic has become more than just a disease — it also serves to catch headlines and TV broadcast time. In order to demonstrate their skills as the managers of the country, meanwhile all political parties are utilizing Corona to showcase their candidates for the race for chancellorship. This is of course causing huge collateral damage — and the German hospitality sector will be among the victims. Cynically it was not the virus that “killed” hotel companies, but the political activism.
Tourists’ stays in hotels are no longer allowed, entries and exits into and out of Germany are only allowed in exceptional cases. The impact of the coronavirus on the tourism industry is severe.
Touristic travel is a risk factor
Tourists and business travelers are seen as the transmitters of this new type of coronavirus, which is the reason for its worldwide spread. Carnival events and skiing holidays in northern Italy and Tyrol are thought to have accelerated the spread of the infection throughout Europe.
While only a few tourist facilities, destinations and regions suffered from the absence of guests from Asia, tourism in Germany has now come to a complete standstill. The borders are closed. Hotels are no longer allowed to accommodate tourists. Museums are shut and restaurants have restricted opening hours.
There’s a kind of end-of-the-world feeling. Before the ski resorts at the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, were closed last Sunday, thousands of skiers went there one last time. Even the ban on visiting the North Sea islands is still being ignored by some travelers.
The lockdown is an existential fear for hotels and restaurants
Government Commissioner for Tourism Thomas Bareiß said he considers the travel and tourism industry to be in a critical situation in light of the coronavirus crisis and has called for emergency funds to be made available.
“We must not allow the many restaurants, hotels and companies in the tourism industry with over 3 million employees to disappear,” the state secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs said.
The DRV travel association has repeated its call for state support.
“The travel and tourism industry is being particularly hard hit. The room to maneuver is no longer a matter of weeks, but of days. We now need an emergency fund quickly to form a protective shield,” said Bareiß. The current loss of income is gone forever, there is no catch-up effect in this industry. “This is an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary resources.”
Urgent warnings also came from the Dehoga hotel and restaurant association.
“The drop in sales is reaching an unprecedented level,” Dehoga President Guido Zöllick said.
Private demand is also noticeably declining. “In the meantime, the entire industry throughout Germany is suffering — whether hotels, restaurants, caterers, pubs, bars, discotheques and clubs, and regardless of whether they are based in the city or in the country,” he added.
3 Mio jobs at risk?
The German Tourism Industry is facing it´s worst crisis ever, putting 3 mio jobs in hotels and restaurants at risk plus an additional 1.2 mio jobs related to touristic infrastructure. While the politicians are presenting relief programs, it seems that the money has not yet reached those who are running out of cash. Several hoteliers have taken the initiative to address their concerns directly to the political establishment — like for instance Günther Klasen, owner of german based Benessere Hotels (https://www.ahgz.de/hotellerie/news/coronakrise-verzweifelter-hotelier-schreibt-brandbrief-an-hessischen-wirtschaftsminister-301078)
In his letter one can feel the desperate situation that many SME owners are facing these days.
“We are hoteliers by heart and have built a little group of hotels over many yearss, providing employment for more than 300 employees.” Klasen states in his letter. Due to the second lockdown the hotels are now at risk of now opening their doors again. “With frustrated and desperate regards” Klasen ends his letter.
The Swiss way
While Germany and Austria are continuing the lockdown exercises, little Switzerland has kept hotels and ski lifts open. Despite one incident where the famous Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz and the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains had to cease their operation due to a local breakout, the country has navigated well through the crisis. (https://www.wionews.com/world/hotels-quarantined-schools-shut-down-in-swiss-ski-resort-to-contain-covid-19-variant-357526). Moving into Spring and Summer the Swiss Resort Hotels are performing above 2019 levels, since their domestic market segment is eger to spend their Francs on “everything with a Spa”.
With current rumors spreading about a prolonged lock down till the end of June, it is no wonder that the German hoteliers are impatient to see some true action from the political establishment.