Despite the lack of guests, investors are building hotels

Munich (dpa) – Regardless of the dramatic drop in the number of guests, numerous hotels are still being planned and built in Germany. The feared large flight of investors from the hotel industry did not materialize.

According to analyzes by market researchers and real estate agents, there were also no large-scale emergency sales. Although many city hotels in particular are missing guests again this year, the signs in the hotel industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic, are pointing to recovery.

Some holiday hotels in holiday regions were even more busy this year than before the crisis as experts report. The future of the hotel industry is a topic of the Munich real estate fair Expo Real, which opens its doors this Monday.

“A lot of liquidity on the way”

In January 2020 Hotel projects were planned or under construction in Germany 718, as the consulting company Hotel Consulting of the real estate broker Engel & Völkers determined. “At the beginning of the pandemic there was a brief stagnation because the banks were very cautious about financing for a few months,” says managing director Andreas Ewald. According to the company’s hotel market report, 64 projects and 64 more put on hold.

But 216 houses are now open, 363 more are still in progress. “There is still a lot of liquidity going on in the real estate market,” says Ewald. “We are seeing that many projects are picking up speed again.” The situation is not rosy: “The mood in the hotel industry is brightening again, although demand has not increased to the extent that it should be.”

State support has helped significantly. “In Spain, the pressure on the property side was much greater,” says Ewald. “There was hardly any government aid.”

From reunification to the beginning 2020, the accommodation industry in Germany was on a virtually uninterrupted growth path, accompanied by far-reaching structural change. Medium-sized family businesses – boarding houses as well as rural inns – closed by the thousands. To this end, new and larger chain hotels were being built in the cities.

Dramatic slump in overnight stays

1992 counted the Federal Statistical Office 318 Millions of overnight stays in Germany. 2019 it was 495 millions. 2020 Then came a dramatic slump: The number of overnight stays sank to 302 million – less than three decades earlier.

But the number of beds almost doubled in the same period: from two to 3.8 million. The development is most noticeable in Berlin. In the capital, the number of beds has increased since 1992 from 41. 950 to over 150. 346 almost quadrupled.

Internationally things are looking up again this year. The world’s largest chain Intercontinental, which includes just 1250 Holiday Inns around the world, reported an operating profit of 138 million dollars. But it will probably take years before the crisis is finally overcome. In Germany, the hotel association IHA assumes in a report published in June that the pre-crisis level could possibly only be reached again 2025.

Because even if all hotels are under the months-long lockdowns suffered, there are crisis winners. “You have to see the situation in a differentiated way,” says Ewald. “The leisure hotel industry has profited greatly from the crisis. In some cases, sales were higher than before the pandemic. ” The situation is difficult for business travel or conference hotels. “I think there are hotels that will take a long time to get back to pre-crisis levels.”

Concrete boxes in commercial areas

So are on the edge of many In large cities, hotels specializing exclusively for business travelers: concrete boxes in commercial areas. Such hostels are also pretty empty this year.

Hotel managers and investors hope that the pandemic will only mean a deep dent, not a permanent kink. Hotel construction is part of the real estate boom fueled by the European Central Bank’s zero interest rate policy. “A lot of money is still desperately looking for investment opportunities,” says Stephan Kippes, market researcher at the real estate association IVD Süd. “That goes from the fund to the family office to the well-to-do private citizen.”

Over the course of the year, the number of overnight stays has risen significantly again. Bavaria remains the number 1 tourist destination. In August, the State Statistical Office counted 4 million overnight stays. That was almost as many as before the crisis, although the previously numerous guests from the USA, China, Japan and Arab countries were missing.

“The numbers are already rising again,” says Kippes. “If the international travel restrictions fall, there will be dynamism again.” A positive sign for the hotel industry: “You don’t hear much from opportunists.” This means investors who get into ailing companies cheaply.

Problem: staff shortage

The hotels in which business is up again now have another problem: staff shortages . Many former employees have looked for new jobs. “Above all, there are a lot of temporary workers,” says Thomas Geppert, the manager of the hotel and guest Establishment Association Dehoga in Bavaria. «We are extremely labor-intensive. The hospitality industry needs about six times as many employees as the retail trade to generate the same turnover. ”

But the hotel operators rely on the same principle as the investors:“ We hope that things will get better again », Says Geppert.

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