13 August 20

Tourism and Covid-19

Eurac Research and Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association (HGV) present survey on summer season

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Tourism and Covid-19: Eurac Research and HGV presented survey on summer season© HGV

In order to investigate the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the tourism sector in South Tyrol, Eurac Research's Center for Advanced Studies, in cooperation with the Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association (HGV), conducted an online survey among all HGV members in the first week of August. The exploratory survey focused on various aspects of tourism and, in addition to the impact of the crisis on bed occupancy and turnover, also examined changes in regular guests and changes in guest behaviour.

"We are currently in the middle of the high tourist season. Together with Eurac Research, we have taken this as an opportunity to take stock of the course of the summer season so far, which has been very difficult and uncertain in some cases," emphasises HGV President Manfred Pinzger. He presented the results of the survey to the public today in Bolzano together with Anna Scuttari and Andreas Dibiasi, scientists at the Center for Advanced Studies of Eurac Research, and HGV district chairman and regional committee member Helmut Tauber.

659 hospitality businesses took part in the survey, of which 328 are accommodation businesses, 42 are purely gastronomy businesses and 289 are businesses that offer both accommodation and food. The explorative member survey is not representative for the hospitality industry in South Tyrol, but offers important insights into the current situation and perception of the surveyed businesses. According to the survey results, about 90 percent of the hospitality businesses are currently open again. The accommodation establishments report a gross bed occupancy rate for July and August that is still below the previous year's level. In July 2020, the average bed occupancy rate was 27 percentage points below the occupancy rate of the corresponding month last year. "For August 2020, occupancy is expected to be slightly better, but still 19 percentage points lower compared to the same month last year," says Andreas Dibiasi. Operating revenues in July and August show a very similar trend to gross bed occupancy. In July 2020, turnover was 33 per cent below the previous year's level. Dibiasi: "For August 2020, the hospitality businesses expect a minus of around 25 per cent. Overall, the survey showed that one to two-star establishments were hit hardest by the decline in demand."

The results of the survey also reveal a great adaptability of companies in the hospitality industry. During the crisis, establishments relied more on marketing, especially towards regular guests, and managed to adapt in-house processes and procedures to the new realities. "While guests pay more attention to hygiene and keep the required distances, they rarely ask for proof of health from the hosts," Anna Scuttari underlines. According to the survey, the guest-host relationship was hardly affected by the pandemic. The survey also shows that the share of regular guests has decreased overall. While the share of regular guests was 53 per cent in August 2019, businesses report a share of regular guests of 41 per cent in August 2020. Scuttari: "Despite intensive efforts, only five-star establishments were able to increase the share of regular guests compared to August 2019." The two Eurac Research researchers also pointed out that there was no catch-up effect from the losses lost in the spring and that one- and two-star establishments were the most affected by the impact of the Corona pandemic. There were also changes in guest behaviour. The survey showed that guests have increasingly used their own cars or bicycles to travel to and on holiday and that more outdoor activities are being pursued.

In his assessment, HGV President Manfred Pinzger went into the areas of business utilisation, turnover development and employment. "In all three areas the survey shows a clear decline. In the month of August, our members forecast a 25 per cent decline in turnover compared to the same period last year," Pinzger noted. There was also a marked decline in the number of employees. Here the survey speaks of 13 per cent compared to August last year. "We can therefore say that the new start of tourism in South Tyrol has been successful, but the occupancy rate, turnover and employee employment have by no means reached the values of previous years," judges the HGV President. President Pinzger sees the autumn-winter season as a major challenge, especially since life takes place primarily indoors during the cold season. This poses a potentially higher risk of infection. "In this context, prevention and safety measures must be all the more clearly in the foreground. We will develop an appropriate concept for this together with all tourism partners," announces Pinzger.

HGV district chairman Helmut Tauber referred in particular to the role of regular guests. "The regular guests have basically remained loyal to us. Nevertheless, according to the survey, about 14 percent of our most loyal customers are missing," Tauber notes. He also referred to the change in guest behaviour, especially when it comes to travelling and mobility on site. Guests feel safer in their own cars. "We have to take note of this and think about how the use of public transport can be made even safer despite Covid 19 requirements," Tauber demanded. Finally, he also referred to compliance with safety rules. "This is demanded by guests as a basic requirement. Therefore, we tourism professionals bear an important overall responsibility for the industry and the country in any case," Tauber emphasised.

Contact Information

Andreas Dibiasi, andreas.dibiasi@eurac.edu, Tel. 0471 055 432
Anna Scuttari, anna.scuttari@eurac.edu, Tel. 0471 055 422

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