Coronavirus crisis

German tourism chiefs seek state support

German tourism industry officials meet with state secretary Thomas Bareiß (4th from right) in Berlin.
German tourism industry officials meet with state secretary Thomas Bareiß (4th from right) in Berlin.

German tourism leaders have called on the government to provide financial support amid a dramatic bookings slump as worried consumers delay holiday bookings, companies cancel business trips and destinations impose travel restrictions to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Sales revenues have crashed by 75% year-on-year in the last few weeks, according to a German Travel Industry Association (DRV) survey of members, with 15% of 700 surveyed companies showing even higher declines. Leisure travel agencies reported a flow of worried customers seeking advice about potential health risks while on holiday, while cruise firms have serious sales falls.

“Most of our members are currently facing a serious or very serious financial impact,” said DRV president Norbert Fiebig. The situation would worsen if the current market disruption continued after the Easter holiday travelling period, he warned.

German travel and tourism associations met the government’s tourism representative, Thomas Bareiß, in Berlin on Monday to discuss a list of proposals designed to cushion the sector from the worsening crisis. Bareiß, a state secretary in the economics ministry, had already signalled the government’s willingness to support the industry.

The DRV presented a nine-point plan calling for:

  • Unbureaucratic short-term loans for travel agencies, cruise companies and tour operators to cope with liquidity gaps
  • Simplified financial support for companies introducing ‘short-time’ working
  • More flexible rules for workers taking longer unpaid holidays
  • Reduced advance tax payments
  • Financial compensation for travel cancellations
  • Urgent repayment of corporate tax payments
  • Delay to new insolvency insurance regulation
  • Post-crisis demand stimulation programme to aid recovery
  • Suspension of airline slot usage rules

Fiebig said: “The measures laid out by the DRV are initial proposals. If the effects caused by the coronavirus last longer, further-reaching instruments will be necessary.”

The DRV proposals were supported by representatives of the German Tourism Industry Federation (BTW), coach tourism association RDA, hotels associations Dehoga and IHA, the incoming tourism association DTV, and the German Tourism Board (DZT).