I will stay here

I will stay here

Andreas scheuerer astrid dresel has it quiet in her office on hochstadter graben. For almost 30 years there is the travel agency in the city center of hochstadt. Pictures of the sudsee hang on the walls, soft sandy beaches that slide flat into turquoise water and are supposed to convey a paradisiacal calm to vacationers; a cruise ship stands as a lamp on the table, a fountain splashes quietly in front of the office. "Clientele, says dresel "there have hardly been any here lately."

Due to the corona pandemic, the entire travel industry is still experiencing barely noticeable tourist flows. Planes are grounded, cruise ships are anchored, and closed borders have temporarily brought tourism to a complete standstill. One of the worst hit by the lack of tourists has been the travel agencies. Although dresel has been busy every day for the past few weeks – first because of the return campaign, then because customers wanted to cancel their trips – she has been able to do so. But she hardly earned anything during this time. "We are paying money to sit here and work", says the travel agent.

The reason for this is the system of payment for travel agents. Because a travel agency only gets a commission when the trip has taken place. If the trip doesn’t take place, the offices have to work twice as hard without payment. After all, both the booking and the cancellation require many hours of work, explains dresel.

But the situation is not currently threatening dresel’s existence. She has put her employee on short-time work, and the rent for her office at graben 3 is comparatively low and there are no higher costs. Ingrid brauer reports something similar about her travel agency. The past few weeks have been "very quiet hardly anyone has booked a trip with her, says dresel. She did not have to work short hours.

For something relaxation with the travel agencies the message of the federal government may have provided, which starting from 15. June wants to lift the travel warning for most european countries. Only in spain and norway the travel ban will remain in force for a longer period of time, but for the summer vacations these countries were also allowed to follow suit. Long-haul destinations will probably remain closed until the end of august.

At dresel, customers are slowly coming back, but the emphasis is on slowly. Since the middle of may, there have been a few more bookings in her office for the summer holidays. Currently, the most popular vacation homes are in germany, austria and croatia. Since one comes here with fewer tourists in contact, the infection risk is very low. The vacation home often has its own bathing area, which customers prefer. "Air travel has so far lagged behind among vacationers", says dresel.

Those who want to leave will find something

Those who decide to spend their vacations in germany have to make compromises at the moment, says ingrid brauer. Although there is still a rough offer. Seaside resorts like usedom or sylt are already heavily booked in these summer months, she adds. Then you often have to make do with lodgings in the hinterland. "If you want to get away, you will find something", says brauer.

If you don’t want to do without a hotel on your vacation, you can book one, says dresel. "Hotels have worked out good concepts to minimize the risk of infection." In some places towels are disinfected after washing and packed in plastic sheets. In the dining halls and in the room corridors, there are common walking directions "hotels go to great lengths to ensure security," says dresel, says dresel.

Before booking a trip, however, it is still important to find out about the hotel in question and the prevailing corona guidelines in the destination country, recommends julia zeller, a consumer law officer at the consumer advice center in bavaria. Because if, for example, the pool area in the hotel is closed off, the guests could be roughly deprived of their seats. Holidaymakers can find information on the respective destination country on the homepage of the foreign office, and on the hotel on its website. When travelers discover shortcomings on the spot, it is often too late to get reimbursed for travel expenses.

Cancellations possible

There are also clear guidelines for cancellations, despite the corona era, says zeller. If there is an "unavoidable state of disrepair" at the time of travel, this is not the case before, cancellations under a fee were possible without any problems. Some tour operators even offer free cancellation up to 14 days before departure. Vouchers that organizers issue instead do not have to be accepted in this case.

That vouchers remain voluntary is something dresel has also advocated. After all, it’s not clear who will cover the costs if the operator goes bankrupt. The travel agency is needed to advise customers in the event of a serious incident. "In the travel agency, you have a contact person at any time of day", says dresel.

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