Travel has only been possible on a limited scale for several months, depending on the stage of the epidemic. Will everything be back to normal soon? Five theses about the year of travel 2022 – and what vacationers can derive from them
Traveling around the world was once normal, at least for people with a German passport. But that has been over for nearly two years. The epidemic is progressing, wave after wave. And now there is also the Omicron variant. At the same time, vacationers are looking forward to 2022. Will travel finally become more carefree?
No one can seriously say when the epidemic will subside and lose its horror. For now, it all looks as if Corona will also have a decisive impact on the next year of travel. Five theses with a look to the future.
Thesis 1: Uncertainty will remain for now
Will bookings return to pre-Corona levels in 2022? The German Travel Association (DRV) sees a question mark here. Corona numbers and the resulting political debates about possible closures continue to shape the behavior of vacationers. “People’s uncertainty almost automatically leads to reluctance to book,” says DRV President Norbert Weibig.
In addition, the evolution of the aura outside is unpredictable, as the Omikron variant shows. There is an unjustified impression: the numbers can rise again dramatically in a short time practically everywhere.
How can vacationers deal with it?
Basically, a package tour is much safer than an individually tailored vacation. Clear legal rules apply. For example, if a flight is canceled or vacationers are stranded somewhere due to Corona, the organizer has to take care of the guests. If unforeseen and unusual circumstances preclude the vacation, the money is returned – at least in theory. Disputes often end in court.
If you don’t want to risk, you’d better book a slightly expensive flex tariff. Consumer advocates also advise it. This means that a holiday can usually be canceled up to 14 days before departure without giving reasons. It’s also worth considering travel cancellation insurance. It can protect, for example, if a traveler tests positive shortly before the holiday.
Thesis 2: Travel remains relatively complicated
What are the vaccination requirements? Do I need a Corona test? How old can the test be on entry? What rules apply to children? These and other questions are likely to keep travelers busy when planning their holidays in 2022.
Not everyone wants it. Tourism expert Professor Torsten Kirstgis is convinced that “the ever-changing rules are the biggest stumbling block and prevent people from traveling”.
On the other hand, the federal government’s guidelines should be mentioned here, for example regarding quarantine regulations when returning to Germany. For example, if a country becomes a changing region for the virus, such as South Africa and Great Britain recently, then local isolation is also the order of the day for vaccinated returnees. On the other hand, travel countries often change entry rules at short notice.
What can I do as a traveler?
Information is everything. Keeping up with the applicable rules on a regular basis will continue to be a part of it. You can get the advice of a specialist in a travel agency. Other than that, the German Foreign Office is the first point of contact for information on admission requirements. Again, if in doubt, book with the short-term cancellation option.
Hypothesis 3: There is a lot of catching up – and people are getting bolder
Michael Faber is managing director of tourism at consultancy Realizing Progress and predicts: “When the numbers start dropping, people will be encouraged and want to live their desire to travel.” Faber, who is also the owner of a travel agency, suspects that a large percentage of people are learning to live with the virus. “They don’t want to go on vacation in Germany for the third year in a row, they want to have a certain guarantee of the sun.”
Apparently, many people wishing to travel are already thinking beyond the rather gloomy winter. “A large portion of the new bookings coming in right now – nearly 60 percent – are already scheduled for next summer,” says DRV President Fiebig. Families tied to holiday dates in particular are already planning and booking their summer vacations. However, the total volume of booking is currently not quite high.
Torsten Kirstijs also expressed optimism: “The framework conditions for the state of affairs will be in place. There will be fewer and fewer reasons not to travel,” says the professor from Jade University in Wilhelmshaven. It points to the relatively high vaccination rate in Europe and the possibility of vaccinating children. The Omikron variant puts presumed certainty to the test.
There’s also a psychological factor: “People will get used to the pandemic more than before,” says Kerstges. “You could also call it freak.”
What does this mean for me as a traveler?
If you already have a definite intention to travel, you should not wait too long – because then almost everyone will probably want to do so. “You can definitely book now,” Kerstjes says.
Travel trends for 2021 are likely to continue into 2022: lots of vacations in Germany, beach holidays around the Mediterranean, and very few long trips. Single forms of vacation should benefit again: vacation apartments, country vacations, camping, mobile home vacations, caravans, and smaller hotels, for example.
Thesis 4: Vacations should become more expensive on average
Flight and hotel capacities should initially remain low due to Corona. Kirstges estimates that if there is a lot of market demand due to loosening of regulations, it may later be difficult to get a cheap offer. “Price increases are realistic because costs have gone up.” He expects to add 10 to 20 percent of the juice.
Michael Faber also expects prices to rise: “With demand increasing, the year will always be challenging to adjust capacity.” If a chain owns several homes in a vacation destination, the decision must be made as to which of them to open. No provider would like to put so many hotel rooms on the market that they are not filled and therefore ultimately paid for.
How do I handle this as a leave maker?
It can be helpful for families in particular to look for early booking discounts and take advantage of offers as long as they are cheap.
Apart from that, the following also apply: additional security costs, eg cancellation insurance. But hygiene procedures, flight planning and hotel capabilities also cost money. However, vacationers are willing to pay for this security. According to Michael Faber, for example, 95 percent of travelers book a Flex fare.
Hypothesis 5: Unvaccinated people should have difficulty
Some countries have long made a full vaccination against Corona a requirement for a holiday – without protection, for example in Thailand, there are long quarantine days that make holiday trips seem pointless. In addition, participation in public life without vaccination is almost possible in many places.
Some tour operators such as Studiosus have long used the 2G (vaccination or recovery) rule. This also applies to many cruise providers: the ship as a closed system only for vaccinated people.
Professor Kerstjes expects that “many regulators will stick to the 2G rule”. Thus the industry will impart a certain amount of security. The effect: “I know my fellow passengers are protected and there are no health risks to me.”
Therefore, vaccination is not only the best protection against severe Covid-19 disease. It also makes travel easier in practice due to the many restrictions placed on non-vaccinators.
So what do you do?
The best thing to do is get vaccinated and update your vaccinations regularly. It is not only recommended by medical experts around the world, but also by the travel industry. “We will also have to live with the specific effects and measures related to the virus in the coming years,” says Norbert Weibig. “It is very important that we make progress in vaccinations here in Germany and around the world.”
DRV pleads to go to the vaccination now. Fiebig is sure: “With more vaccinations, we get additional protection, we can enjoy more freedom faster, and also travel more responsibly again.” This doesn’t sound like a lot of freedom to travel – but it does seem like an important step forward.