From COVID to war: will travel become more expensive? | Travel DW | DW

The pandemic is still not over, there is a war in Europe and inflation is skyrocketing. In tough times like these, many people yearn for a vacation. Yet even going on vacation is not as easy as it once was.

More than two years of the pandemic have scarred many people, raising existential fears and work-related concerns. As restrictions were lifted in Europe, Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, sparking further unease and uncertainty around the world.

It’s no wonder many need a break. After all, holidays are a time to disconnect and relax. It’s great if it works out that way, but the current crises are also impacting the travel industry.

Rising fuel prices also affect travel prices

Rising cost of flights and hotels

Anyone looking for flights right now might be wondering why they seem to have gotten more expensive in recent months. Prices are indeed rising, and there are two reasons for this.

“Overall, the cost of gas is rising and the price of oil is at record highs. Customers are also feeling this in the prices of plane tickets, which are becoming more and more expensive,” said Johanna Tillmann of the German airline Condor at DW. . After all, it’s not just car owners who pay more at the pump; airlines also pay more for fuel.

“Additionally, we are currently seeing the result of pent-up demand for holiday travel. This is impacting the price of airfare and accommodation, especially in high season, as (these prices) are based on demand,” Tilmann explained.

 The foyer of the Hotel Reichshof in Hamburg is almost empty.

Many hotels are struggling to find staff after being closed during the pandemic

Hotels also face higher costs. They have to pay more for oil, gas, electricity and food. Additionally, many hotels lack skilled workers. At the height of the pandemic, hotels were empty and many employees found other jobs.

To a certain extent, the hotel industry must now create incentives, mainly financial, to recruit staff. These additional costs are passed on to customers in part through higher tariffs.

What about vacation packages?

Costs also affect so-called package holidays, trips where holidaymakers book a package consisting of various travel-related offers, including flight, hotel and hotel transfer.

According to German travel price comparison website Check24, package tours booked to destinations popular with German tourists are more expensive than they were last year. The average one-week holiday package for two people, booked in May for the months of June to August 2022 in Mallorca, Spain, is 17% more expensive than last year. “Despite favorable prices, the price increase is most pronounced in Side and Alanya on the Turkish coast. There, a week’s vacation for two people this summer is now 45% more expensive than last summer,” said said Martin Zier, managing director of package travel at Check24, in an interview with DW.

A man sits in a swimming pool overlooking the ocean.

Trips to Turkey, a popular holiday destination for German tourists, are more expensive than last year

Spend more on travel

Still, the higher prices haven’t deterred everyone from spending money on travel. According to the German Travel Association (DRV), which represents the travel industry in Germany, German travelers simply spend more money after two years of little or no travel, and they book more expensive trips. “Those who used to book only with breakfast are now booking all-inclusive, those who used to book three-star hotels are now booking four-star accommodation. And many holidaymakers are traveling longer than usual,” explained Torsten Schäfer, door -word of the DRV. .

German airline Lufthansa has seen a similar trend. “It is currently difficult to get seats in business class and first class. These are the first to be sold out,” said Lufthansa spokeswoman Bettina Rittberger. Many people have not gone on vacation for two years, have saved money and now want to have fun. According to the German Travel Association, flights to the Mediterranean, especially to Spain, Greece and Turkey, are in high demand this summer.

A waiter prepares a table at a restaurant in the island of Santorini, Greece.

Greece is one of the countries expected to see a particularly high number of tourists this summer

With regard to package tours, Schäfer claims that stable prices are more or less guaranteed, because tour operators usually buy the quotas together with hotels and airlines in the previous year and in this case the economic conditions were then more favorable. Tourists who book early can therefore expect better prices. But if tour operators run out of their previously purchased offers and have to buy more, it could become more expensive.

Don’t forget the additional costs

Travelers should plan for additional fees this summer when reviewing their budget. Many restaurants, clubs and cafes in the holiday destination may have raised their prices.

There is also the rental car situation. In 2019, rental cars booked with the help of Check24 cost on average just over €34 ($36) per day in 20 countries. This year, the average daily rate is around €74 ($79), more than double.

And then there are non-financial factors that can currently make travel more difficult. Like the hospitality industry, many airports are also understaffed. This has resulted in extremely long queues at security checkpoints, few staff at airline check-in counters, as well as a lack of ground staff servicing aircraft.

Passengers line up at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has been understaffed in recent weeks

At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the situation is extreme. Some passengers had to wait hours to be checked in or to board flights. To prevent the situation from becoming even more dramatic, the airline KLM had to reduce ticket sales for flights to and from Amsterdam.

In short, anyone planning a vacation should do it early, don’t rely on last-minute deals, and don’t be surprised if the trip is more expensive than the year before. If all goes well, many vacationers will be able to get away from crises, war and the pandemic this summer, at least for a few precious moments. What the future will bring is anyone’s guess.

This article was originally written in German.

Lucas E. Kelly