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

The pandemic is not over yet, there is a war in Europe and inflation is skyrocketing. In difficult times like these, many people want a vacation. Yet even going on vacation isn’t as easy as it once was.

More than two years of the pandemic have left their mark on many people, sparking existential fears and worries related to work. Just as restrictions were lifted in Europe, Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, sparking further unease and uncertainty around the world.

No wonder many need a break. After all, a vacation is an opportunity to switch off and relax. But the current crises are also impacting the travel industry.

Rising fuel prices are also affecting the price of the trip

The increase in the cost of flights and hotels

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

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

“Also, we currently see the result of pent-up demand for holiday travel. This has an impact on airfare and accommodation prices, particularly in the high season, because (those prices) are based on demand,” he explained. Tillmann.

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. In addition to this, many hotels lack qualified staff. At the height of the pandemic, hotels were empty and many employees found other jobs.

To some extent, the hospitality sector now has to create incentives, mainly financial ones, to hire staff. Additional costs are passed on to guests in part through higher room rates.

What about vacation packages?

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

According to the German travel price comparison website, Check24, package tours booked to popular destinations among German tourists are more expensive than last year. The average one-week vacation package for two, booked in May for the months 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-long vacation for two this summer now costs 45% more than last summer,” he said. said Martin Zier, managing director of package tours at Check24, in an interview with DW.

A man sits in a swimming pool overlooking the ocean.

Travel to Turkey, a popular tourist destination for German tourists, is more expensive than last year

Spend more on the go

Yet the higher prices haven’t deterred everyone from spending money on travel. According to the German Travel Association (DRV), which represents the German travel industry, German travelers are simply spending more money now after two years of little or no travel and are booking more expensive trips. “Those who used to book only with breakfast now book all-inclusive, those who booked three-star hotels now book four-star accommodations. And many vacationers travel longer than usual,” explained Torsten Schäfer, press spokesman for the DRV. .

German airline Lufthansa has seen a similar trend. “It is currently difficult to get seats in Business Class and First Class. They are the first to be fully booked,” said Bettina Rittberger, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa. Many people have not been on vacation in two years, they have saved money and now want to have fun. According to the German Travel Association, flights to the Mediterranean, particularly Spain, Greece and Turkey, are in high demand this summer.

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

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

When it comes to package tours, Schäfer says stable prices are more or less guaranteed, as tour operators typically buy quotas with hotels and airlines the year before and in this case the economic conditions were more favorable then. . Tourists who book in advance can therefore expect better prices. But if tour operators run out of previously purchased offers and have to buy more, it could become more expensive.

Don’t forget the additional costs

Travelers should plan some additional costs this summer when considering their budgets. It may be that many restaurants, clubs and cafes in the holiday destination have raised their prices.

There is also the situation of rental cars. 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), or more than double.

And then there are non-financial factors that can currently make it more difficult to travel. Similar to the hotel industry, many airports are also understaffed. This has resulted in immensely long lines at security checks, fewer staff at check-in counters for airlines, as well as a lack of ground staff serving the airplanes.

Passengers wait in long lines at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has been understaffed in recent weeks

At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the situation is extreme. Some passengers had to wait hours to check in or board their flights. To prevent the situation from worsening, the airline KLM had to reduce the sale of tickets for flights to and from Amsterdam.

In short, anyone planning a vacation should do it early and not rely on last-minute deals and don’t be surprised if the trip is more expensive than the previous year. If with good luck, many vacationers this summer could take a break from crises, war or pandemic, at least for a few precious moments. What the future will bring is everyone’s guess.

This article was originally written in German.