Why Germans cancelled plane tickets to G20 summit

Written by Aina Jones, CNN

The world’s largest economies are gathering in the German capital this week for the G20 summit, but not everyone is heading to Hamburg for the meeting.

For many, the decision to attend the summit in Germany is one to avoid. Almost 4 million Germans have now canceled bookings for the country because of public health fears, according to German TV station ZDF.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted these cancellations to those attending the G20 in a tweet on Sunday, writing “More than 4 million Germans have canceled their bookings to the G20 this year. This is why I want people to take the necessary precautions and get vaccinated.”

Merkel’s tweet included a link to the Münchner Merkur, Germany’s largest business newspaper.

A statement from the Federal Health Office says that 1.6 million Germans — including police officers and government officials — have to receive mandatory vaccinations as part of an effort to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

The ruling, issued on September 7, means that the vaccinations must be carried out within the next 10 days. This comes after officials quarantined an air traffic control worker in Frankfurt after the worker showed a high level of Ebola virus during a job inspection.

Tourism to Germany has been affected by the preemptive bans, which have hampered the country’s multibillion-dollar industry.

“The huge number of cancellations of hotels, cruise liners and airplanes, especially at the start of the cold winter season, is having a negative effect on the tourism industry,” said a statement issued by the German Travel Agents Association (BGA).

Total cancellations stand at about 650,000, the statement said.

The number of flights scheduled in the first ten days of November are equal to more than the total number of flights from July through September, the statement said.

“These new figures are of course very worrying, not just for tourists, but also for the hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent on the travel industry in Germany,” said BGA President Roman Gerlach.

The news was similar at Deutsche Bahn, the country’s national rail operator. “At the moment, we are experiencing the biggest spike in cancellations since October last year, during the campaign period for the federal elections,” said Axel Shepel, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn, in a statement published by ZDF.

French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said France had also seen major bookings cancellations.

“We are fighting by all means to minimize the short-term costs for us and our people,” he said, according to France 2.

“We’ve made every effort to ensure the necessary measures to protect people who will be in and out of the G20 meeting…[but] we have noticed a notable fall in the number of travel bookings. We regret this because it may have an adverse economic impact.”

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