Illustration of smoked fish. (Shutterstock/Davor Ristic)
Planes might be largely grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, but at one travel agency in southern Germany, smoked fish and fine wines are flying off the shelves instead.
Customers can collect their orders of smoked trout or char, accompanied by a bottle of fine German wine, every other Friday from the agency in Groebenzell, Bavaria.
"We are selling more than 200 fish each time. The profit even covers our rent," said agency owner Helmut Lang, 63.
The agency also managed to sell some 500 bottles of wine in total during November.
Lang and his colleague Hans Goetschl, who runs another agency in nearby Munich, came up with the idea after talking to a mutual friend who happens to be a fan of fishing in the Tegernsee lake, south of the Bavarian capital.
"He told us -- in his thick Bavarian accent -- if you can't sell your trips, just sell my fish," Lang recalls.
A few days later, the two friends collected a batch of fish from Tegernsee and then sold it in their respective agencies -- in Groebenzell, with around 4,000 inhabitants, and in Munich, the third largest city in Germany.
They later introduced an online ordering system and now get regular deliveries of the smoked fish from Tegernsee in cool boxes.
Rosina, a regular at the Groebenzell agency, hasn't missed an order. "You don't get fish like this in the shops," she said, adding that she also wants "to support the travel agency".
Coronavirus restrictions have all but wiped out demand in the tourism sector in Germany, with business for the two colleagues this year reduced to a handful of trips to the Canaries.
Lang is hoping they will be able to continue with the project even if non-essential shops are told to close thanks to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Germany.
"If all goes well, we're going to set up a new company on January 1," Lang said, the aim being to continue to sell the fish and wine alongside holidays with a gastronomic bent.
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