April. 19, 2020 – Will there be any tourism this summer? This is the golden question being asked not only in Croatia, but also in the rest of Europe. However, according to the first signs, Croatia could profit as an auto-destination thanks to its proximity to central Europe.
“This tourist summer will certainly be completely different from everything we’ve known so far,” says the president of the Alliance of German Tour Operators, Norbert Fiebig, in an interview with Tagesspiegel. He predicts that unless travel restrictions are lifted, many will be spending this summer at one of Germany’s tourist centers, Deutsche Welle writes and Slobodna Dalmacija reports.
If the borders do open at all, the goal for European tourists will be to European countries – and in this sense, the closer, the better. Croatia, which is only a few hours away by car from southern Germany, could certainly reap the benefits of this.
“And in European countries that have carried out the second phase of combating the spread of the infection, travel will be possible under certain security conditions,” says Fiebig.
TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator, is signaling that they are ready to organize trips as soon as the countries in question give the green light.
“TUI is currently in talks with the governments of many tourist countries, which are preparing during the pandemic so that guests can return as soon as possible,” TUI said when asked by AFP.
The position of German Foreign Minister Heik Maas also argues in favor of the theory that tourists will initially choose destinations closer to home.
“Of course, as soon as circumstances change, we will allow travel. But I can only lift the warnings if I am sure that citizens will be able to return to Germany on a regular basis,” Maas said, pointing to a substantial, complicated (and expensive) action of returning German tourists home from different parts of the world.
Fortunately, destinations in the Mediterranean, such as Croatia, because of their proximity, do not fall into the category of countries in which return flights need to be organized.
These aspects, according to Norbert Kunz of the German Tourism Association, could, in the future, play an increasing role in choosing a holiday destination. For him, the important question is whether tourists will want to stay near their homes in the future in order to risk as little as possible in case they need to return home quickly.
“What role does safety play, including medical safety, in the place where we spend our holidays? These are all issues that we will deal with more intensely in the future,” Kunz tells public service ARD. The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic could have far-reaching consequences for tourists, Deutsche Welle writes.
As far as the future is concerned, Kunz believes that the tourism industry will certainly not come into full operation this year but only next summer. The same is true in Spain, where the government has told tourism workers that the industry, if at all, will only be able to count on activating demand at the end of the year. But Kunz is optimistic in the long run:
“The citizens’ longing to travel abroad will continue to exist. That is not out of the question.”
In other news, Jutarnji List reports that Austria could allow tourists from Germany and other countries where the coronavirus is under control to visit Austria in the summer, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said on Saturday.
German tourists accounted for more than 30 percent of arrivals last summer in Austria, according to official statistics.
The share of tourism in Austria’s GDP is one of the largest in the EU.
“Freedom to travel will remain limited in the coming months.
However, if countries are successful (in the fight against the coronavirus), such as Germany, there is a real chance of bilateral agreements,” Koestinger told the Saturday edition of the Austrian newspaper Die Presse.
Conservative Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz said Austrians should consider vacationing in their country to help the economy.
“However, without foreign tourists, we will have to bear the losses,” Koestinger added.
By the end of April, the government plans to present a plan for the gradual opening of the restaurant and tourism sectors.
From Tuesday, garden centers and retail spaces of less than 400 square meters have were opened in Austria, which, as well as larger shops, though masks are required.
Masks are also mandatory in public transport and in taxis.
To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.