Yes, it is easier to plan a holiday again than it was a few months ago. However, there is so much uncertainty: What are the rules at the holiday destination? Can my family use the leisure offers and recreational facilities and, if so, under which conditions?
In some countries, such as Croatia, tourists have to provide their contact details for the entire duration of their stay. If you are travelling via certain third countries, you are even required to go into self-isolation. The requirements here, as in many other places, can always change again, too.
As challenging as the current situation is for tourists: it is just as challenging for hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Requirements Lead to Significant Additional Costs
Torsten Kaliebe from the ‘AKZENT Hotel Kaliebe’ on Usedom is happy that he and his colleagues can open the business again: ‘Since mid-June we have been permitted to have all the rooms occupied and that is what we are doing.’ He is all the more pleased that his hotel is currently fully booked despite coronavirus, largely with domestic tourists. They formed the largest guest group in the past, too.
Despite this positive development the hotelier is facing some major challenges. The revenue losses from the past months are still noticeable, says Kaliebe.
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As a matter of fact, he is now dealing with even larger costs as a result of the hygiene regulations but he does not want to pass them on to the guests. He and his team have a significant amount of extra effort and need to be well organised: self-service at the breakfast buffet is not possible anymore, the breakfast is being composed by the staff according to the guests request. The tables and chairs and beds need to be cleaned after each guest. Therefore, guests are given fixed time slots for breakfast and dinner.
Wolfgang Siegel, from the restaurant and guesthouse ‘Zum Klausner’ on the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee is having a similar experience this summer season: ‘We had to employ 2 new staff members just to be able to comply with the hygiene regulations,’ he reports. He says that, fortunately, the guests manage well with the new regulations but the 2020 summer season is unable to make up for the losses experienced over the past 3 months. ‘We will need at least 2 years to balance out the last months,’ Siegel comments.
Will Domestic Tourists Save the Industry?Revenue loss is also an issue for hoteliers and restaurateurs in Portugal which is not easily solved. Usually, the region predominantly welcomes guests from abroad. This year, the industry is primarily hoping for domestic guests to get businesses back up on their feet. Joana Faria, the owner of the restaurant ‘Fauna & Flora’ in Lisbon, a city which is highly reliant on tourism for its income, reports on significant financial losses: ‘Hopefully it will improve again with the opening of the borders and the return of small numbers of tourists,’ says Faria. She doesn’t want to change anything as a result of the situation. ‘Everything will stay the same at our restaurant, including the menu. We don’t want to compromise or even show any weakness – quite the opposite! We want to be strong and demonstrate stability, even in these difficult times.’
Everything will stay the same at our restaurant, including the menu. We don’t want to compromise or even show any weakness – quite the opposite! We want to be strong and demonstrate stability, even in these difficult times.Joana Faria, the owner of the restaurant ‘Fauna & Flora’
Her colleagues from the Michelin-starred restaurant ELEVEN in Lisbon are relying on more Portuguese people visiting the restaurant. ‘The foreign tourists aren’t around and we have to accept this reality,’ the 2 head chefs Joachim Koerper and André Sousa explain. In order to optimise costs and the profitability of their Michelin-starred food without sacrificing quality or identity of their concept, they had to adapt their menu, in order to cater for the tastes and requirements of the increased number of Portuguese guests.
An increase in local tourism is also expected in the neighbouring country of Spain. ‘Domestic tourists want to spend their time outside, where you can comply with social distancing rules more effectively. Bars and restaurants with terraces, small hotels, campsites or holiday homes are therefore very much in demand,’ says Marta Pérez Postigo, Head of Corporate Communication, PR & CSR at MAKRO Spain. When eating and drinking, Spaniards primarily place value on healthy, local and sustainable products, says Perez Postigo. ‘Therefore, we recommend that restaurateurs and hoteliers tailor their services accordingly.’
Bury Your Head in the Sand – or Simply Carry On
Whether you are catering for domestic tourists or tourists from abroad: new procedures are necessary everywhere. Minimum distance rules and regulations on the number of guests allowed, or booking requirements make precise preparation even more necessary in order to guarantee the profitability of the businesses – and prevent them from another loss-making venture. For lots of restaurateurs, summer season is normally the most profitable season of the year. 2020 is a very challenging year for them.
On the other hand, it will provide the opportunity to advertise national tourism, including on a long-term basis. In Spain, according to a survey, 72% of people are currently planning to spend their holiday in their own country, as Marta Pérez Postigo reports. Even though lots of restaurateurs are looking to the future with uncertainty, the current circumstances are also creating new business dynamics. ‘You have to see it as an opportunity,’ Joana Faria from Lisbon believes. Her fellow countrymen Koerper and Sousa are of the same opinion: ‘It is clear that the future of the industry is uncertain but you can use the situation to develop, to grow and to try out new things in this new normality.’