The Institute for Digital Change at the Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences (RWU) has been working on the effects of the corona pandemic on tourism. Digital offers provide the opportunity to better manage the current crisis as well as similar ones in the future. In order to determine the readiness of people for this offer, students of business informatics interviewed 184 participants and evaluated their answers.
Unsichere Zeiten für die Reisebranche
The corona pandemic had an early impact on people's mobility. Travel within and outside Germany was only possible to a limited extent in spring. In March 2020, a 57 percent drop in travel was recorded. This hit the tourism sector and the people working in it hard. Worldwide, losses of 80 billion dollars were recorded here. Travel agencies, airlines and the hospitality industry are still struggling to survive or are receiving state aid.
In the meantime, travel restrictions were relaxed again and many began to plan their holidays from the pandemic. But once again, there are signs of a turnaround. In the past few days, the Federal Foreign Office has again issued more travel warnings, including within the EU. This is a situation of insecurity that affects not only the tourism industry but also the travellers themselves.
Opportunities of digitalisation in tourism
IT services, such as apps for smartphones, could help to prevent the spread of infections while traveling and at tourist hotspots, thus reducing the individual and social risk. "Apps of this kind can be used to control tourist flows and keep holidaymakers informed in real time," says Professor Dr. Wolfram Höpken, head of the Institute for Digital Change and Professor of Business Informatics. Holidaymakers could, for example, be warned of overcrowded places and advised of less frequented alternatives. Information on waiting times and peak hours at tourist attractions, which is collected on the basis of location data, could also be passed on to users. "This can increase the perceived safety for travellers," says Wolfram Höpken. The provision of travel apps could also be attractive for tourist destinations, as they would appear well prepared for crises.
72 percent of those surveyed are prepared to use modern IT applications in the context of holiday planning and dealing with the pandemic. However, only 49 percent said that such an application would give a greater feeling of security. This underlines the great acceptance of IT services in tourism. However, they are not considered to have any significant potential for crisis management.
Package holidays are perceived as safe
Another focus was on the question of whether the pandemic would have a lasting effect on people's travel behaviour. The attitude towards package tours versus individual travel, as well as national versus international travel destinations was surveyed.
In both cases, the data collected do not show a clear trend. The decision whether to book the holiday as a package deal or to organise it yourself is not much affected by the pandemic. While 21 percent of those surveyed before the Corona had used package deals, this figure fell to 19 percent. A larger difference is evident in individual tourism, where the figure fell from 72 to 65 percent. According to the Institut for Digital Change, this speaks for a different perception of risk. If a booked package tour has to be cancelled, the costs incurred are usually borne by the tour operator and not by the tourists. "The Covid 19 pandemic will therefore probably not trigger the end of package tours" summarises Prof. Dr. Wolfram Höpken, head of the study.
While the share of package holidays in tourism has remained stable at around one third in recent years, criticism of this form of holiday has been growing. "Package tourism is considered to be unsustainable and has therefore been increasingly criticised in tourism studies", says Wolfram Höpken. The complaints are directed, for example, against the accumulation of large hotel complexes and the resulting concentration of many people in one area. In comparison, individual travel is considered by many as a more gentle alternative.
No clear trend towards regional tourism
The assumption that the trip would now go to Lake Chiemsee instead of Cuba cannot be supported by the statistics. The pandemic hardly affected the intention to spend one's holidays in Germany. Only the number of undecideds has increased by 11 percent, at the expense of international tourism.
Text: Michael Pfeiffer