Summer 2020

Travel industry gears up to relaunch package holidays

Ready for a comeback: Riu Hotel Palmeras on the island of Gran Canaria.
Riu Hotels, Riu Hotels
Ready for a comeback: Riu Hotel Palmeras on the island of Gran Canaria.

Tour operators in Germany are gearing up to send customers on holiday again next month as travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic are eased in many international destinations.

With Germany set to lift its global travel warning in mid-June and permit cross-border travel to many European destinations, the travel industry is drawing up 'safe holiday' concepts covering transportation and accommodation, as well as flexible booking and cancellation conditions.

So far, tour operators have cancelled holidays with departures up to June 14 but existing bookings for holidays from mid-June onwards remain valid. However, it is unclear at present how many flights will be operated from Germany to holiday destinations this summer and what restrictions might be applied in destinations.

TUI offers 'risk-free' cancellation option

Market leader TUI, which has suspended its international tourism programmes until June 14, said it is "ready to start again in European holiday regions" from June 15 onwards. Holidays within Germany are already possible again this month, and TUI hotels are re-opening in various locations. The group has also published a detailed hygiene concept for its hotels and partner properties.

To start generating revenues again, the tour operator is now offering all customers who make new bookings by the end of June the "risk-free" option of a free cancellation or booking switch up to 14 days before their departure. The offer is valid for holidays this summer, next winter and even in summer 2021. In addition, these customers will benefit from a 'loyalty bonus' of up to €100 per person.

Germany CEO Marek Andryszak said that consumers have been informing themselves "intensively" online and through travel agencies about summer holiday options in the last few weeks but had been "reluctant" to make bookings. The free cancellation option and bonus would give them “confidence and flexibility” for their travel planning, he said. "Customers will get their payments back, regardless of the reasons why their travel plans have changed," he emphasised.

DER Touristik provides 'flexibility and security'

Top rival DER Touristik has made a virtually identical offer of free cancellations up to 14 days before departure for all new bookings by June 30 for holidays at any time up to the end of October 2021. However, customers who cancel their booking will get a voucher to the value of their payment rather than their money back.

"Consumers are uncertain at the moment. Rules are changing all the time and it is not clear where you can travel to when. Two things are important in this situation: flexibility and security. We are giving our guests both of these with our new special cancellation rule," explained Ingo Burmester, CEO DER Touristik Central Europe.

In addition, customers with existing bookings for holidays up to July 31, 2020, can also switch to a later departure date free of charge or cancel and get a voucher for the value of their payment. 

DER Touristik said it currently expects to be able to offer holidays this summer on the Balearic Islands, the Canaries, in Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus and possibly Turkey as well as in Germany, Austria and Denmark. The group is supporting its hotel partners with a ‘prevention concept’ for hygiene and social distancing.  

FTI presents hotel hygiene concept

Among other leading tourism companies, FTI Group has also published a comprehensive hygiene concept for the re-opening of its 70 MP Hotels properties. Measures include intensive staff training, new cleaning processes and social distancing between staff and guests.

For its part, Alltours is offering domestic holidays within Germany again from May 30 onwards but has not yet disclosed its plans for summer holidays in other countries. However, the tour operator is now looking further ahead and has made its winter 2020/21 programme available for travel agency bookings.