An unexpected “post-COVID” tourism boom, multiplied by a shortage of staff and a rapid rise in prices, the German press called all this a “holiday of trouble”, announcing that they have become a new trend in the German tourism sector. Germans want to travel more than ever, including around the country, and the high demand for the Easter holidays pleases hotel owners. However, it also leads to big problems.
“The strong demand for the Easter holidays for the German hotel and restaurant industry is a beacon of light at the end of a long dark tunnel. Nearly two-thirds of the companies we surveyed rated the booking situation for the upcoming holidays as satisfactory or better,” Ingrid Hartges, managing director of the association, told Deutsche Welle hotels and restaurants DEHOGA. She added that most of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Germany just in time for the Easter holidays – and this inspired a large number of German tourists to go on vacation.
However, this light at the end of the tunnel also vividly outlined the first tourism disaster that has long been a concern in the industry. “Due to the lack of demand during the pandemic, the industry saw a drop in employment despite all efforts to retain staff. Yes, without benefits, the losses would have been higher – but the loss of staff still occurred, ”says Ms. Hartges. During the pandemic, more than 130,000 permanent jobs and 217,000 part-time jobs were eliminated in the hotel and restaurant sector. As a result, advertisements for jobs in restaurants and hotels have become a typical detail of the landscape in German cities – everyone is looking for workers at the same time. At the same time, a significant part of those who previously worked in the tourism sector managed to find a job for themselves – for example, in retail trade, which did not close during covid, and is in no hurry to return.
“Such workers are difficult or impossible to bring back because they are used to a normal working day and weekends,” the publication notes. According to the Seenland Oder-Spree travel association, in the Berlin-Brandenburg region alone, 20% of employees have left the industry. “The market is depleted because every tourist establishment is looking for chefs and service personnel,” said managing director Ellen Rassig. “There are simply no applicants,” hoteliers also complain. As a result, you have to reduce the menu and hours of operation, resort to a digital system for ordering and paying, and the like. But it doesn't save. Hopes are also pinned on foreign workers, including refugees, as well as on “programs for young talents.”
Another “gloomy shadow” over the tourist market is the consequences of anti-Russian sanctions. Energy and heat are rapidly rising in price, which, on the one hand, forces hotels and restaurants to raise prices, and on the other hand, devastates the wallets of potential tourists, which can “leave many vacationers at home.” “In addition, the operating costs of hotels and restaurants will increase due to high energy and food prices, so the expected and long-awaited additional income from more guests after the lull in the pandemic may not come,” German experts estimate.
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