The tourism sector has been hit so badly by the financial crisis that airline companies are not the only ones flying low, or even worse - caught with their pants down.
Even 6-Star hotels have been reduced to dwelling places of demons where the bling of gold and marble arches wallow in the dusty decline.
Budget hotels, hostels and campsites on the contrary are holding on by the skin of their teeth but for how much longer can they hang in there? Not much longer one would assume!
The Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, Germany announced last week (10 August 2009) that the number of foreign tourists travelling to Germany has fallen by 8% compared with figures for 2008. They also confirmed that the number of German nationals vacationing at home has increased by 5% in comparison with last year's figures.
Where will the buck stop?
Ironically, Michael Glos (Germany's former Economy Minister) made an anti-recessionary, protectionist rant in 2005 requesting all German holiday makers to remain in Germany and enjoy the German Baltic Sea or the Franconian wine region as opposed to escaping Germany for the warmer regions of the world such as the Caribbeans.
Who's bucking the trend?
While the tourism monster undergoes a global melt-down, CouchSurfers are bucking the trend and going from strength to strength - the network is growing quickly, adding about 2361 new members daily!
The international non-profit organisation, couchsurfing.com, connects travellers with locals in over 231 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using their network to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.
These exchanges are a uniquely rich form of cultural interaction. Hosts have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving home. 'Surfers,' or travellers, are able to participate in the local life of the places they visit. More and more people have the opportunity to travel, because 'surfing' dramatically lowers the financial cost of exploration.
CouchSurfers come from 62,002 different cities around the world and speak 1,272 unique languages.
CouchSurfing Statistics [See current statistics]
(Generated 16 August 2009)
- Total CouchSurfers: 1,330,318
- Successful Surf or Host Experiences: 1,357,650
- Friendships Created: 1,532,420
- Positive Experiences: 2,455,418
- Countries Represented: 231
- Cities Represented: 64,002