Germans foresee a summer without holidays
"The decision about travelling abroad is not on the table right now," says Angela Merkel.
The Germans, among the biggest travellers in Europe, are preparing for vacation on their balconies with no foreign travel, with catastrophic consequences for the tourism sector of their favorite destinations, including Spain at the top of that list.
In 2019, 2.6 million German tourists spent their holidays in the Canary Islands, which represents almost 20% of all foreigners who visited the islands.
This particularly effects Fuerteventura as the German market is the main one, last year 688,000 German tourists visited the island, and another 305,000 went to Lanzarote.
However, unlike the British, the main tourist clients of the Canary Islands, whose presence on the islands is almost constant (approx 400,000 a month), the influx of Germans always drops massively in the summer.
According to data from the Canary Statistics Institute, 510,942 Germans visited the Canary Islands in the summer quarter: July, August and September of 2019.
There are 'memes' doing the rounds on German social networks, showing sunbeds or deck chairs on a balcony with an umbrella, all sending the same message, that this summer, holidays are going to be at home.
"As long as the virus is here, we must limit our travel plans. Regardless of how understandable the wishes of people, and the tourism sector are," saind the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in an interview yesterday with "Bild am Sonntag".
The German people, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pointed out in this regard, "must get used to the idea that summer holidays will not be comparable to those of the past."
Maas made these statements after the ministry, extended it's general warning to citizens not to travel anywhere in the world until June 14th, due to the risk of coronavirus.
Holidays in Germany begin just a few days after that date, with the official end of the school year, but it is currently impossible to predict how the situation in Germany, and other countries, will have evolved by then.
The German chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, said on Thursday, that at this time of the pandemic the issue cannot be seriously addressed.
"The decision about travelling abroad is not on the table right now," she repeated twice when questioned about it at a press conference.
Maas clarified that the summer will be decided when it is known "how the fight against the pandemic is going", both in Germany and in other countries.
He also put forward that by June 14th it may be possible to agree on "a common European regulation" to regulate cross-border travel, flights, and border closures.
The Foreign Minister recently highlighted his "wish" that the borders be reopened "as soon as possible", but in safe conditions: "At the moment, it cannot be predicted in the long term, when the restrictions on freedom of movement can be lifted".
Spain, first international destination
The decisions that Germany ends up making, are key for the tourism sector throughout Europe, an industry especially affected by the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the Sars-CoV2 virus, with planes on the ground, closed hotels, moored cruise ships and bars, restaurants, and beaches closed in most of the continent.
Given the uncertainties, there are no estimates at the moment of the economic damage that can be caused by a year without a summer season. But the tourism figures of Germany, the most populous country in the EU, serve to intuit the seriousness of this possibility.
According to the most recent study published by the German Tourism Association (DTV), in 2018 a total of 55 of the 83 million Germans made 70.1 million trips, where Spain was the first international destination (13 percent), followed by Italy (8.1 percent), Turkey (5.1 percent) and Austria (4.9 percent).
The average cost of a trip of less than five days stood at 268 euros per person, and rose to 1,017 euros for so-called long trips.
Germany is the second highest country in the world for travellers that choose Spain, with 13 million tourists a year, just behind the 18 million from the United Kingdom, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), which also calculates that the average German spends 124 euros a day and 1,004 euros per vacation stay in Spain.