Travel patterns changing in wake of pandemic

Talks in Chamber of Commerce on post-corona opportunities for tourism in north
01 October 2021
Hamburg's staircase district

Tourism experts met Tuesday (September 28, 2021) in Hamburg's Chamber of Commerce for the North German Tourism Conference to discuss the future of local tourism after the severe blow dealt by the pandemic. The sector now faces growing demands for bookings, an exacerbated shortage of skilled workers and accelerated digitalisation. Launched by the Hamburg Tourism Association, the North Chamber of Commerce and Industry, DEHOGA Hamburg and the Ministry of Economics and Innovation, the conferenced focused mainly on the possible medium and long-term consequences of the crisis. However, changing guest and travel behavior, new demands on accommodation, destinations and modes of transport indicate the need for flexibility and adjustments in the sector. 

Increased flexibility 

Germans' preferences have hardly changed with swimming, hiking, mobile homes remaining popular, according to tourism expert Prof. Dr. Edgar Kreilkamp. Staycations remain popular. Air travel and long-distance travel are likely to decrease as taxes on emissions are likely to send prices rising. Yet, the need for greater flexibility in rebooking and cancellations,has  grown as a result of the pandemic, he noted. Sustainability is also gaining momentum and offers the industry an opportunity to position itself based on quality rather than on competitive pricing. Health and safety remain important to travellers. Tourism is a key economic factor and must be considered across the board e.g., in terms of infrastructure and urban planning. The goal was to speak with a "co-ordinated north German voice" in future to gain more clout in Berlin, delegates agreed. 

More international guests

The north remains a most popular destination for Germans. Yet, the proportion of international guests is relatively small. "That offers great potential for growth because the coronavirus crisis is changing international travel. We can gain  market share after corona. The potential Iies in north German collaboration. We need to invest more in improving accessibility to northern Germany, especially through more international air connections," said Dr. Malte Heyne, CEO  Chamber of Commerce. Andreas Rieckhof, State Councillor, pointed to the "present great need for travel and recreation". It was gratifying to see tourism in northern Germany picking up speed again. "We are looking to the future with renewed optimism despite all the challenges facing the industry, such as attracting skilled workers, digitalisation and sustainability," he added. 

Tourism picking up again

The number of guests increased by 10.5 per cent to 428,000 and overnight stays by 13.7 per cent to 966,000 in July 2021, according to Statistics North. However, the figures were significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels.