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ITB Berlin: Ukraine War Expected to Impact Tourism

Opening press conference of ITB Berlin 2022: Katie Gallus (moderator) with Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin; Peter Kautz, MD of Statista Q; and Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV).

Opening press conference of ITB Berlin 2022: Katie Gallus (moderator) with Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin; Peter Kautz, MD of Statista Q; and Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV). Photo source: ITB Berlin

Russia’s war activities in Ukraine and the inevitable repercussions are bound to impact the tourism industry, said German Travel Association (DRV) President Norbert Fiebig addressing the opening of ITB Berlin taking place remotely this week.

Fiebig expressed concerns that the war and international reactions will have consequences. 

“The exact consequences are not yet predictable, but one thing is certain: The war will be an additional challenge for our industry along with the coronavirus and after the pandemic,” he said.

Fiebig went on to add that in the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, several tourist destinations have begun to gain ground seeing growing demand.

Norbert Fiebig, President, German Travel Association (DRV).

Norbert Fiebig, President, German Travel Association (DRV).

“Since February, according to weekly booking data of travel agencies and online travel portals, there has been an increase in bookings compared to the week before the coronavirus crisis in 2019. Popular destinations include Spain, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. However, the total booking volume for the current summer season is still 48 percent below pre-crisis levels,” he said, adding that it remains to be seen whether and to what extent the war in Ukraine will lead to a general insecurity resulting in a change in the travel behavior.

TUI not seeing changes in booking behavior

TUI Germany CEO Stefan Baumert, speaking on occasion of the opening of the ITB Berlin expo, said that despite the war, the leisure travel giant is expecting “a good 2022 summer season” and is currently not seeing any fundamental changes in booking behavior. 

“During this time, it is undoubtedly difficult to think of something as carefree as a holiday,” Baumert said, adding that TUI condemns the war triggered by the Russian government, which violates international law.

“Our thoughts are with the Ukrainians fighting for their freedom in these dark days,” he said.

With regard to the current travel trends, Baumert said the booking curve continues to be upward.

“Especially classic destinations in the Mediterranean are in demand and recording an increase which is even above 2019 levels,” he said.

According to Baumert, Mediterranean destinations such as Mallorca, the Turkish Riviera and the Greek islands are the top favourites.

The company is planning a total of 120 additional flights will start in April, with most flights – 62 in number – going to Greece, followed by Mallorca (48).

“Cyprus, the Cape Verde Islands and Egypt are also in high demand,” he said.

Looking ahead, Baumert said the industry still has a long way to go to recover losses but estimated that “summer business this year will approach pre-pandemic levels because people are longing for beautiful experiences and travel,” adding that flights to destinations in the Mediterranean region and to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde in July and August will be fully booked quickly. 

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