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Germany First

If you want to book your summer holiday on the Baltic Sea or in Bavaria, you need good luck and should be prepared for steep surcharges. In Antalya, Turkey, Hotels and beaches are deserted. The Federal Foreign Office is still warning against travelling to Turkey. Allegedly because of Corona. However, the travel warning for the much more heavily affected Great Britain has been lifted and infection rates are also higher in the Bavarian holiday regions than in the Turkish holiday regions. For countries like Turkey, the collapse of tourism is a single disaster. And it is not only Turkey that has to prepare for a severe economic crisis because of the continuing tourists. The consequences will be profound – also for Germany.

The Hoteliers and restaurateurs in Grömitz, Kühlungsborn, Oberstdorf or Thale should of course be granted that the summer season is now starting properly and they can now certainly compensate for some of the massive failures from the Lockdown times. However, this should not hide the fact that the year 2020 is an “annus horribilis” for global tourism, free after the Queen, in which the German tourism industry even gets away with a black eye in comparison. The big loser worldwide is foreign tourism. The reason for this is obvious: one has lost the desire to travel abroad due to the fear of Corona, the other a trip abroad is made de facto impossible by travel warnings and prohibitions.

However, they still travel, although not as much as in previous years. Instead of Thailand, Turkey or Croatia, we head to the Allgäu or the Baltic Sea. This is politically quite intentional, as Markus Söder already predicted a “Run” on the local catering and hotel industry in April for the summer and made a self - fulfilling prophecy in conjunction with the travel warnings of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The latter insisted until a few weeks ago that there would be no Chance of a holiday abroad for Germans this summer anyway. The bookings in German holiday regions picked up speed, but classic holiday countries such as Turkey or Croatia looked into the tube. While countries such as Germany or France can at least partly compensate for the collapse of foreign tourism through domestic tourism, domestic tourism does not play a significant role in these countries.

But what does that mean for these countries? In countries such as Croatia or Turkey, entire regions depend on the actually secure income from tourism. These are not only Hoteliers and restaurateurs, but also and above all millions of often poorly paid workers who live directly or indirectly from the income from tourism – waiters, kitchen helpers, chambermaids, taxi drivers, supermarket sellers, farmers who sell their products to tourists, artists, musicians and so on. These are the people directly affected. Indirectly affected are all those who in turn also live on the money that those directly affected earn with tourism and that is then pretty much the entire economy in these regions.

Turkey, for example, spends around 31 billion euros per year on tourism. Last year, another five million Germans travelled to Turkey. This year the number has imploded. In the Antalya region alone, one Million inhabitants live directly or indirectly from tourism. Here there is neither short-time work pay nor rescue packages. The entire economic base of these people has broken away. For the time being, one can only speculate about the consequences of this catastrophe. In the 1970s and 1980s, millions of Croats and Turks were forced to seek their fortune in the distance. A scenario that is also very likely for the coming years should not come as a surprise. This weakens the economic base of these countries even further, while countries such as Germany – much to the benefit of the economy – can continue to depress domestic wages.

Could Germany alleviate the consequences? Of course! For example, there is no convincing reason that Turkey is on the list of countries for which an official travel warning is issued due to the Covid-19 situation. This warning is often presented as a” recommendation”. However, this is a very superficial consideration, after all, the travel warning de facto prevents the offer of package tours for legal reasons. Anyone who has booked a trip to a country for which there is an official travel warning can cancel it at any time free of charge without giving reasons. The Associated risk of default is not calculable for any tourism company and is also not insurable, since special clauses apply here. Although individual travelers can still ignore the official warning and take one of the few flights. But then you also have to insure yourself – on good terms-with health insurance. The statutory insurance cover and special foreign health insurance do not apply without an additional clause for trips to countries for which a travel warning has been issued. The Antalya Tourist is thus on a par with a development worker who wants to travel to a war region. But why?

The “infection situation” in Turkey – albeit at a slightly higher level – is quite comparable to that in Germany or a country such as Great Britain. In the entire Antalya region with its 2.4 million inhabitants, there were only 88 positive Tests between 4 and 22 June. This is less than in most Bavarian holiday regions and is by a factor of 30 below the German threshold of 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week. Even the 4.3 million inhabitants of the Izmir Region, with an average of around 30 positive test results per day, have an absolute value that is on a par with the city of Munich, which is less than half as large. Incidentally, as in Germany, the development of the figures is stable at a low level. These figures do not justify why a Tourist may spend his holiday in Bavaria or Great Britain, but not on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

And Turkey is by no means alone. Absurd, for example, is the travel warning for the popular long-distance travel destination Thailand. There were only 3,202 positive Corona cases (Germany: 198,765), of which only 59(!) are considered active, i.e. have been reported in the last 14 days. In the future, Germany wants to issue a warning for the EU if the new infections exceed the German benchmark of 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week. For Thailand this value is 0,04 and yet there is an official travel warning because of Corona. Thailand’s economy also largely depends on the income from tourism. Here the economic base of other countries is ruined negligently or with intent. Germany first … at least when it comes to tourism.

One can speculate as to why Germany sticks to its travel warnings, which in many cases are not substantiated by facts. Political reasons could play a role here – for example in Turkey. However, it is more likely that one has in mind to strengthen domestic tourism at the expense of foreign and long - distance travel. This could also be called Holiday nationalism. The catastrophic consequences are acceptable.

As a small footnote, however, it must be mentioned here that there is also a winner of this development: if one considers the forced Trend to vacation in one’s own country from a climate protection perspective, this is of course consistently positive. But tell that to a chambermaid from Poreč, a surfing teacher from Antalya or an artisan from Chiang Mai.