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Germany: Will We Be Spending the Summer Vacation on the Balcony?

It is spring. The summer vacations are coming closer. But considering the Corona situation and all the bans that are in place right now, things do not look good at all.

Millions of Germans are daydreaming of their favorite summer vacation destinations. Riding cable cars in San Francisco with flowers in one’s hair, exploring the Wall of China, consuming wine in Bordeaux or enjoying the breeze in Cape Town is great. But it looks like these activities may have to be cancelled this year.

Big Pile of Problems

In two months from now, from June 22nd, 2020, the first federal state in Germany, Mecklenburg Hither-Pomerania, will be on summer vacation. What its inhabitants need to know yesterday is whether they can actually take trips this year. But the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

There is a slight problem: A pretty bad virus which made millions ill and killed tens of thousands of people is still out there. Of course there are more issues. Borders around the world, and even in Europe, are closed. Airlines grounded their fleets. At this stage, there are more Lufthansa aircraft parked at Frankfurt Airport than there are passengers.

You want more problems? Here we go: Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued a travel warning for the entire world weeks ago. It’s not like anyone really wants to welcome German tourists because Germany happens to be among the five countries most affected by Corona, but having a travel warning in place anyway was probably a good idea.

Return Guarantee

For now, Mr. Maas wants Germans to stay in Germany. He just invested a lot of effort and money into taking tens of thousands of stranded German tourists back home from exotic locations around the word. Hundreds are still stuck at beautiful white beaches, in mountainous regions and at other spots in Asia, Africa and South America.

This fact highlights another problem which seems to be preventing intercontinental tourism. If Germans would take summer vacation trips of this kind, they would need a permission to return afterwards, some kind of guarantee. But in this volatile situation, hardly any country can guarantee anything, including the opening of borders or airports.

If Chile, Hawaii, Japan, New Zealand and Kenya are being eliminated as potential destinations for the 2020 summer vacations, how about Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom or Austria? At this stage, it does not look too good in these cases either. Those countries are fighting the Coronavirus too. In most of them the situation is more alarming than in Germany.

Domestic Summer Vacations

There might be one way out: Austria is ready to consider an exception for German tourists. In Vienna, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger told the ‘Die Presse’ daily, there could be a bilateral agreement with Germany because the neighboring country was on “a very good and positive path”.

Germany does not have a tourism minister, even though some believe it should. But Foreign Minister Maas would have to work on reopening some borders if he wants to accept the offer from Austria. The thing is that vacations need to be planned and booked. When the world was still standing, people used to do so before taking their vacations, and not afterwards, meaning decisions would have to be taken right now. But it does not look like they will.

That leaves Germans and other residents of Germany with the option of taking summer vacation trips within this country. Splendid. Except tourism is forbidden at this stage. Nobody may stay at hotels or comparable accommodations for touristic purposes. Even campsites are restricted. Only permanent campers may stay there, according to the Corona rules.

Nice Vacation in the Park

If all of those bans are not being lifted soon, only two options are left. Regional day trips are legal, meaning Berliners may visit towns, lakes or mountains in Brandenburg, Frankfurters can do some hiking in the Taunus mountains, residents of Munich may walk around Lake Starnberg and Hamburgers, with cheese and onions, may go check out the forest at Lüneburger Heide.

Other than that, balconies are always a good option. For those who do not have a garden, terrace or balcony, the park around the corner might be just the right spot. Whatever it is: Have a nice vacation.

By the way: The publication you are reading, The Berlin Spectator, was established in January of 2019. We have worked a whole lot, as you can see. But there has hardly been any income. This is something we urgently need to change. Would you consider contributing? We would be very thankful. Our donations page can be found here.