Since the reopening of the German capital last June, the Berlin tourism industry is showing positive signs of recovery.
In the first semester of 2021, the German hospitality and tourism sector – including hotels, restaurants and cultural venues – was hardly affected by the shutdown. According to Burkhard Kieker, CEO of visitBerlin, the German capital lost some €150 million in tourism receipts each week during the first half of 2021. This is no surprising news since Berlin’s tourism sector has remained shut down for the first half of 2021. During those months, hotels and other lodging facilities could host exclusively business travelers, while restaurants were only allowed to offer takeaway meals. Additionally, Germany was closed for any kind of individual. People from the EU and the Schengen Area could enter Germany only for urgent reasons.
Last year, Berlin reported only 12 million overnight stays, a number well below pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, figures have been even more disappointing. The Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office reported that between January and June 2021, only 2.5 million overnight stays were recorded (-61% compared with the same period in 2020). The statistics also show that between January and June 2021, only 20% of Berlin tourists came from a foreign country. This figure is in contrast with 2019, when almost half of all tourists came from abroad. Fortunately, since Berlin began easing restrictions, the travel and tourism sector has started a slow recovery. However, the hospitality sector is facing growing uncertainty due to last minute bookings.
Back in May, hotels and other lodging facilities reopened to holidaymakers. Restaurants and bars began serving food, although at first this was permitted only outdoors. Starting from June, food venues are finally allowed to serve food indoors as well, and recreation and entertainment places (e.g. movie theaters, theaters, opera houses, and concert venues) are open again. Nightclubs have started to welcome only vaccinated people or individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
According to Thomas Lengfelder, Director of DEHOGA Berlin (Berlin’ s hotel and restaurant association), hotel occupancy rates increased to over 66% in August 2021 (+44% compared to 2020). However, this figure is still way lower than August 2019.