Holiday sales

German tour operators start cancelling June bookings

Further delayed: German tour operators cancel holiday trips until mid-June.
Getty Images/ Lena Serditova
Further delayed: German tour operators cancel holiday trips until mid-June.

Germany has extended its global travel warning until June 14, prompting tour operators to start cancelling bookings throughout May and early June while hoping for a return to holiday sales soon afterwards.

The foreign ministry decided yesterday (April 29) to extend its warning against private travel to any other country from Sunday May 3 by a further six weeks until Sunday June 14, given that the continuing anti-coronavirus restrictions around the world are unlikely to be lifted in the near future. The new date falls between the end of spring holidays in some federal states and the start of summer holidays in others.

Foreign minister Heiko Maas declared: "Whoever travels abroad at the moment does not know if he (or she) can even return to Germany as planned. International flights have been grounded, a lot of borders are closed and there are also curfews and travel restrictions within holiday destinations."

Looking beyond mid-June, he added: "We will have to decide after talks with European countries and travel destinations how the situation in the summer will be. Only then can it be decided whether summer holidays are possible or not. We might possibly have to differentiate between individual countries, depending on how the situation in the country is."

More cancellations and financial incentives

In response to the latest extension of the travel warning, and with the tourism industry effectively shut down in most holiday destinations worldwide, several leading German tour operators who had so far cancelled bookings through until May 15 are now starting to cancel bookings with departure dates up to June 14. 

These include TUI Germany, DER Touristik, Anex Tour (including subsidiaries Bucher Reisen and Öger Tours) and cruise firm Aida (until June 30). Other market leaders such as FTI, Alltours and Schauinsland-Reisen, who have so far suspended their travel programmes until May 15, are likely to follow suit in the next few days by cancelling bookings until mid-June as well.

Meanwhile, the major tour operators are continuing to offer a range of financial incentives, including credits, loyalty bonuses and discounts, to try to encourage customers to accept holiday vouchers that are valid for a new booking later this year or in 2021 instead of a refund now for the cancelled holiday.

Destinations discuss re-opening options

At the same time, the travel industry has not given up hope that it might be able to send customers on some kind of summer holiday somewhere this year. Destinations in Germany, for example, are currently planning how they could welcome visitors this summer.

Austrian tourism officials and politicians have already suggested that German visitors might be allowed into the country in the near future while other countries are increasingly discussing how and when they might reboot their tourism industries for international holidaymakers.

Call for differentiated travel advice

The German Travel Industry Association (DRV) said trips within Germany would be gradually offered again as soon as the development of the pandemic made them possible. "Trips to other countries in Europe will then follow once there are similar conditions as in Germany," the association commented.

DRV president Norbert Fiebig said: "What’s important will be to move to differentiated travel advice for individual countries as soon as possible in order to reflect individual developments. In addition, immigration quarantines of 14 days must be lifted as soon as tourist trips abroad are possible again." 

TUI expects regional re-openings

TUI CEO Fritz Joussen said he expects a gradual re-opening of holiday destinations on a regional basis. "For example, the Balearics and the Canaries will be able to welcome guests earlier than holiday regions on the Spanish mainland," he wrote in a letter to staff.

TUI Germany sales chief Hubert Kluske had previously commented: "We are already in close contact with governments in our home market and in the holiday destinations. As soon as individual countries give a green light, we will be in a position to offer trips there. We expect that we will be able to fly guests to different destinations again in the peak summer holiday period."”