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Huge job loss imminent in German tourism sector

May 10, 2020

A third of jobs in Germany's tourism industry could be lost in the coronavirus crisis without government help, the president of the BTW tourism association says. This comes as a poll shows many Germans scared to travel.

Stacked deckchairs on a beach in northern Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Runge

The crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic means that every third job in the German tourism sector could be lost unless the state steps in, according to the president of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW).

Michael Frenzel told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "around a million" of the some 3 million people working in the sector in Germany were at risk of becoming unemployed.

Frenzel said 70% were already working short-time under a government scheme that sees workers compensated for work lost.

Read more: Coronavirus: Travel boss urges EU to relax curbs on tourism

Call for voucher compensation

The BTW president also predicted long-term changes in the industry, with big online companies dominating the market while smaller travel agencies and tour operators disappeared.

In the Welt am Sonntag interview, Frenzel also called on the government to introduce a voucher scheme to replace cash compensation for customers whose trips have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He described the European Commission's previous rejection of the idea as a "scandal."

Travel fears loom large

The tourism industry in Germany is likely also to suffer under the current unwillingness of Germans to travel amid the uncertainties created by the coronavirus crisis.

Read more: Coronavirus: EU urges closing external borders until mid-June

Germany's rural economy under strain

A recent YouGov survey showed that almost half of Germans (48%) do not want to see European borders reopened for the summer holidays. Since mid-March, a general travel warning has been in place in Germany, and borders are to remain closed until mid-June at the earliest.

Some 42% had dropped the idea of taking a holiday at all, according to the survey. But 16% were determined to travel abroad despite restrictions, while 13% wanted to travel within Germany.

Germans normally would rather take holidays abroad than at home, with one survey showing that 74% of holiday trips they took were to other countries.

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