“A European wide race for who will allow tourism trips first, leads to unacceptable risks, again” said the SPD politician.
Return to freedom of travel
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) had held a video conference on Friday with counterparts from six other countries who, in Vienna’s view, would have fought the coronavirus just as successfully as Austria.
With the heads of government from New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Greece and the Czech Republic – all of whom complain about fewer corona deaths than Austria – he agreed to see the return to freedom of travel as a goal, “but we can do that with our neighbors first of all “.
This also means Germany, whose population Austria still hopes for summer tourism visits. The domestic hoteliers are in the starting blocks, albeit with the circumstances there is a strong pinch of caution.
After all, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has clearly signaled that the EU wants to coordinate more in relaxing travel restrictions. The Guest pensions, holiday apartments and hotels are still closed anyway.
Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) has announced the prospect of a gradual restart from mid-May. The companies would have to plan, says Martin Stanits, spokesman for the Austrian Hotel Association (ÖHV) to the STANDARD. There are summer bookings, for example, from regular German guests who have been vacationing in Carinthia for years. Only nobody knows how to deal with it. If the borders remain closed, the German bookings are useless, they could have been sold to Austrian guests.
A precise date as to how long the borders will be restricted would be helpful as soon as possible, says Stanits, who, like other tourist experts, also refers to the importance of German neighbors for Austria: “Every second international guest comes from there.”
The fact that despite the domestic advances – Köstinger has been thinking about bilateral agreements with Germany, for example – has expressed such German reluctance is a painful setback for the tourism planners – and not least due to the fact that the tourism industry in this country is significantly more important than with the neighbours.
The fear of exponential virus growth
Berlin’s attitude also has to do with the special corona situation in Germany. In a struggle with the prime ministers of the federal states, the government had committed itself to less stringent lockdown measures than Vienna. The viral numbers have also improved in Germany as a result – but they are still higher than those in Austria.