Staycations boom in Germany amid heavy losses to tourism industry

Staycations in Germany are all the rage this summer. In some particularly popular regions this new trend is driving accommodation prices upwards.

Staycations boom in Germany amid heavy losses to tourism industry
Beachgoers in Warnemünde, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Photo: DPA

Packed beaches on the North and Baltic Sea coasts, Alpine foothills overflowing with tourists: Despite a boom in travel to many holiday destinations, estimates suggest that the German tourism sector will be unable to make up for the losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The bottom line is that there will be no such thing as a German tourism boom this year. The losses sustained during lockdown were simply too high”, said Norbert Kunz, director of the German Tourism Association (DTV). 

Now holidaymakers are faced with even higher prices when booking accommodation in particularly popular regions. Kunz spoke of price rises of up to 10 percent.

The North and Baltic Seas and the Alpine foothills are particularly popular amongst Germans at the moment, according to his observations.

Holiday accommodation by the coast in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has reached around 80 percent capacity for July and August. 

READ ALSO: Holiday homes at North and Baltic Sea 90 percent full as Germans choose staycations

“However, this year not even the most popular regions will come close to matching last year’s profits,” Kunz told DPA. This is due in part to the fact that hotels, guesthouses, camping grounds, and also restaurants and cafes cannot operate at full capacity due to current social distancing regulations. 

This problem is further compounded by a near total lack of foreign tourists in many regions. According to Kurz, there are not enough German holidaymakers to compensate for the resultant economic downturn. 

At least 29 percent of Germans no longer have a holiday planned for this year, according to a survey conducted by the Consumer Research Association (GfK). 

Tourists on the island of Usedom on June 27th. Photo: DPA

Those who do have a holiday on the horizon are mainly travelling to German destinations, above all to Bavaria and Mecklenberg-Western Pomerania. Seventeen percent of those surveyed are still planning a foreign getaway to other countries in Europe. 

READ ALSO: Weekend Wanderlust: How to travel the world without leaving Germany

According to Kunz, regions such as the Thuringian Forest, Sauerland (in North Rhine-Westphalia) Eifel (a low mountain range in western Germany), Taunus (a mountain range located north of Frankfurt), the Brandenburg lakes and the Harz mountains are also profiting from the staycation boom.

Hotels in the Harz Mountains, for instance, reported a significant increase in bookings in June and July. Kunz described the shift as a “strong trend toward nature”.

READ ALSO: North or Baltic Sea? How to decide between Germany's two coasts

All in all, however, the Tourist Association sees no prospect of relief for the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. 

“A fifth of all tourism businesses are fighting to survive, they are still dependent on government support,” explained the director of the Tourism Association. He called for the provision of Kurzarbeitgeld (financial support for workers with reduced hours) to be extended.

At present cover is available for up to 12 months. In addition, the obligation to file for insolvency is set to remain suspended until at least the end of September.

A ban on overnight stays for leisure purposes was introduced in Germany in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Individual German states lifted the ban at various points in the second half of May.

Translated by Eve Bennett.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.