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An exotic experience at home: Faced with closed borders and uncertainty over foreign travel requirements, holidaymakers are discovering the benefits of local destinations

Woman and a dog in outdoor tent

Longing for home: amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic travellers around the world are significantly changing their habits. Against a backdrop of closed borders and continually changing travel requirements holidaying at home is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition. Tour operators are making efforts to foresee changing cross-border travel requirements so that customers can better plan their trips abroad. However, in Germany a large number of travellers are already turning their attention to local destinations. These are among the findings of a recent survey by the HRS Group, which concluded that Germans are particularly keen on the coast and the regions near the Alps.

Compared with recent years the domestic tourism industry faces big challenges – including having to target a much wider range of customers than before. In Germany that means addressing those customers who had originally wanted to spend their holidays abroad. These are travellers who are not necessarily keen on guest houses and holiday apartments. Often, it is unconventional types of accommodation that they demand. One of them is glamping, which comes from ‘camping’ and ‘glamour’. As the name suggests, this type of holiday combines maximum freedom with certain basic comforts. Corresponding travel products can be found on the website of Glamping.info, for example.

This combination of simplicity and extravagance can also be found in completely different forms of accommodation. Aside from luxury tents, options include American retro-style motorhomes or treehouses in the woods. A few months ago, two entrepreneurs opened similar accommodation on the North Sea coast. Mein Baumhaus operates a treehouse hotel on an area of 1.4 hectares on a dyke, where visitors can even watch freighters pass by. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy an unusual holiday experience at Kriebelland in the heart of Saxony, where several treehouses and yurts await guests. Here too the sleeping quarters are in the treetops, high above the ground.

Other examples of unusual accommodation are castles and palaces. Anyone who thinks they are only for wealthy guests is wrong. Some of these stately homes feature high-priced luxury hotels, such as the Wartburg in Thuringia, but in Unsleben in Franconia holidaymakers can also rent affordable apartments in a moated palace.

In eastern Germany the vintage-style restoration of country estates has become a trend. This is often undertaken by creative urban dwellers who have recognised their architectural value, made it their task to refurbish them, and offer premium accommodation without sacrificing the building’s original character. Providers such as Airbnb offer accommodation in old farmhouses, on country estates and even at former railway stations in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Brandenburg. Kobrow, an approximately 20-minute drive from the Hanseatic city of Rostock, offers an example of a carefully restored country estate.

The challenge will be for Germany’s tourism industry to ensure that this year’s new guests become enthusiastic regulars. Only then will these customers prefer holidaying in their home country after the coronavirus crisis has passed. In Germany, due to the weather alone, staycationing is not as attractive as in France or Italy, where even in normal times the beaches are populated with local holidaymakers. That is why current events present a big opportunity for Germany’s tourism industry. The situation is similar in many other countries.

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