Summer, sun, beach and sea – no question, we are drawn back into the distance. After several years, Germans’ desire to travel is finally back at a high. Many people long for a break from everyday life, for relaxation by the water or in the mountains, for new impressions and adventures far away from the places they see every day. Unfortunately, inflation puts a damper on one or the other travel planning. But do without holidays because the travel budget is getting tighter? Doesn’t come in the bag for most travel enthusiasts.

Questions that many travelers are therefore asking themselves: How is cheaper – and good – vacation possible in 2023? Where can I find the best deals? And which places do I not yet have to share with thousands of other tourists? At the travel summit in Cologne’s RTL studios on Thursday, four industry experts found answers to precisely these and other questions.

In the panel discussion with RTL travel expert Ralf Benkö, Stefan Baumert, CEO of TUI Germany, Eurowings Managing Director Kai Duve, Christian Hein, Managing Director of MSC Cruises Germany and Marija Linnhoff, Chairwoman of the independent travel agency association VUSR, dealt with the current challenges in the tourism industry. and given a tip or two for planning your vacation.

In addition to affordable travel, the focus was primarily on climate-friendly holidays. Floods, earthquakes and forest fires have made the consequences of the climate crisis painfully clear to us in recent months. Tourists must also react to this. The big question is how. Air travel and cruises in particular are repeatedly criticized in this context by climate protectionists.

According to Eurowings CEO Duve, climate protection is also a concern of the Lufthansa Group: “For us, sustainability is a matter of course.” The airline has been committed to sustainable fuels for several years and also offers its customers the option of CO2 offsetting. However, this usually costs an extra fee. And the truth is that the airline still offers numerous short-haul flights, including many domestic flights. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the ecological balance of air travel is still poor.

The same applies to cruises, by the way. However, MSC boss Hein sees it differently: “Our ecological balance is getting better and better. I am confident that we will be carbon-neutral on the seas by 2050 at the latest,” he says in the talk. How can that work? With the right fuel – currently this is still liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG. But even if in 2050 really all MSC ships were to be sailing the world’s oceans with LNG gas, they would still not be climate-neutral. Because the steamers also emit CO2 with the fuel.

Marija Linnhof from the travel agency association VUSR still thinks cruises are a good – and cheap – option for a holiday this year, “because the price-performance ratio is just right”. The consequences of the climate are not as important to most holidaymakers who seek advice from a travel agency as a nice trip. Cruise, road trip or would you prefer a flight? Travel interests have evolved in recent years. TUI boss Baumert sees a clear trend towards individualisation: “However, that does not automatically mean that it is becoming cheaper.”

In order to have a great holiday, however, you first have to arrive at your destination. Here Linnhoff sees travelers, airlines and airports facing chaotic times again. She is certain: flight chaos in summer is inevitable. Travel agencies also suffer from this, because they also sell those flights that are later affected by cancellations. “In order to prevent this in the future, we need a better exchange between the airlines and airports. They simply haven’t done their homework up to now.”

A point that TUI boss Baumert sees differently. He assures: “We did our homework very well and learned from last summer. I don’t think it will be as chaotic as last year.” But even if the predicted chaos does not materialize, the rising flight prices will keep many people from flying.

According to Eurowings CEO Duve, there are a few tricks to save money when booking flights: “Flexibility is the be-all and end-all here. If possible, you should avoid Saturdays, book as far in advance as possible and be open to niche connections to places who are perhaps not so well known. That can be doubly worthwhile.” So if you don’t insist on your annual vacation in Mallorca, but also want to vacation away from the well-known tourist paths, you can not only save money, but also discover special new places at the same time. And that’s priceless in the end anyway.