As tens of thousands of visitors from around the world were preparing to head to Germany for the renowned Passion Play in Oberammergau this year, news broke that it would be postponed until 2022 because of COVID-19. To get an update on the event, Courier checked in with Germany-based faith-travel expert Christian Utpatel of Terra Lu Travel.
What has the response been from your clients to the two-year postponement?
Instead of finalizing the last details toward the group travel season for Oberammergau, we stopped, and everything had to be dismantled and worked backwards. All our clients had the chance to cancel and get a refund, or stay with what they have and postpone to 2022. Almost half postponed, and most of the rest said that they only want a refund now to reorganize and will start with new bookings as soon as possible.
On a personal note, I’m really thankful for the good partnerships with NTA members. Every one of our NTA clients was great to work with, and the mood was one of partnership and friendship.
Why was it moved back two years and not just one?
The idea of postponing two years seemed difficult first. Many visitors are of high age, and tour operators don’t know if their groups will stay together for two years. Plus, we also see the severe devastation in the travel industry.
The two-year postponement allows everyone involved—tour operators, inbound agencies, and airlines—to recover. And most importantly travelers will have more trust, courage, and hopefully funds to travel again in 2022.
How will things change with the event being held in 2022?
It moves me a lot to realize that the Corona pandemic hits the very roots of the Passion Play. It was in 1633, in the middle of the Thirty Years War after months of suffering and death from the plague, that the Oberammergauers swore the oath to perform the Passion every 10 years. At Pentecost 1634, they fulfilled their pledge for the first time on a stage they put up in the cemetery above the fresh graves of the plague victims.
And now we are here in our modern world, and again realize the threat of a disease. This reminds us that the Passion Play never was a tourist attraction, but a worship of the most important story mankind has to tell.
The stage sets and the scripts, the hotel and ticket categories, the travel opportunities will stay the same for 2022. But actors already told me that their understanding changed because of the current personal experiences, and so their appearance on stage will change.
I'm sure of one thing: The 2022 Passion Play will be even more intense and meaningful, and I can hardly wait for the premiere on May 14, 2022.
Top photo: Oberammergau Passion Play
Photo by bayern.by
Support for Courier articles provided by:
Terra Lu Travel & Consult GmbH