The Germans are known for their penchant for international travels, but today, the destination is enjoying a reversal of the spotlight, with increasing numbers of visitors flocking to the country to experience authentic ‘Destination Germany’. Emily Millett writes
Offering a rich and diverse range of rural and urban experiences, Germany is currently solidifying its position on the international tourism map, with increasing visitor numbers highlighting the destination’s growing appeal.
“Germany’s attraction as a destination of choice for tourists is illustrated by the growing number of visitors recorded in the past years,” said director, German National Tourist Office – Gulf countries, Sigrid de Mazieres. “Last year, Germany’s inbound tourism figures reached record levels for the ninth year in a row. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, there were 87.7 million international overnight stays recorded – an increase of 4.5 per cent compared with 2017.”
And according to the latest forecast from the GNTB, visitors from the GCC in particular are expected to increase to 3.6 million overnight stays by 2030, compared with the 1.8 million guest nights from Gulf nationals recorded in 2018, with key markets being the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
“We are confident that the future is bright and we look forward to welcoming more tourists from the region to our beautiful country,” added de Mazieres.
APPEALING TO KEY MARKETS
The growing importance of the Gulf countries to inbound tourism in Germany has inspired the GTNB to launch a wide range of market specific B2B and B2C campaigns to promote ‘Destination Germany’ in the region. These campaigns include the global ‘100 years of Bauhaus’ campaign, as well as the ‘German Summer Cities’ campaign, which included a mall activation event at City Walk Mall in Dubai earlier this year, in partnership with Lufthansa Group.
“GNTB is very active in the Gulf region and regularly conducts various marketing initiatives, including travel trade and press events and educational initiatives to promote ‘Destination Germany’ within the Gulf region,” de Mazieres told TTG. “Apart from a wide range of trade activities, such as our participation at the Arabian Travel Market and our B2B roadshow focusing on Saudi Arabia, we also organise social media activities and influencer trips in order to provide travel inspiration and to keep Germany top of mind.”
According to de Mazieres, the travel patterns of the incoming arrivals from the Gulf region are starting to shift and evolve, following the changing demographics in the GCC, where more than 50 per cent of the population is under the age of 25.
“Millennials and Generation Z travellers are interested in authentic experiences and trendy cities like Berlin, Cologne and Leipzig in East Germany,” she explained. “They also look for more affordable hotels and recreational activities such as paragliding, sightseeing cycling tours or hiking in the mountains. This younger generation is more adventurous and more keen to explore the lesser known parts of Germany.”
This younger traveller trend is not solely reserved to arrivals from the GCC, as president, The German Medical Wellness Association, Lutz Lungwitz stated: “Currently, Germany is being visited by a growing number of young people from all over the world. This is due to the flagship destination and tourism magnet of Berlin and all the low-cost carriers landing there. An oversupply of economic accommodation (hostels and high quality one-star hotels) eases the overnight stays of young people in Berlin.”
And while ever-younger arrivals are clearly on the increase, Germany’s traditional European feeder markets are also remaining loyal.
“Germany sees growing numbers of tourists from many European, Asian and American countries,” Lungwitz told TTG. “French and Italian tourists are flocking in due to a lower cost of accommodation. Swiss citizens are increasing their visits to Germany, due to an extremely strong and sudden increase of travel expenses in Switzerland, and Chinese and Japanese travellers continue to enjoy round-trip packages, travelling from the North to the South, including Berlin, Cologne, Heidelberg, the Black Forest and the Bavarian Castles.”
Cultural tourism has always been a mainstay allure for visitors to Germany, and while this trend remains stable, the destination has been also witnessing a shift towards sustainable and environmentally conscious travel in recent years.
“The current trend towards sustainability and environmental protection is unprecedented,” noted exhibition director, ITB Berlin, David Ruetz. “At the recent European elections, around 30 per cent of the German electorate voted for the Green Party. There has also been a ‘Greta effect’ that inspires a new generation across Europe to become more interested in environmental issues.”
According to Ruetz, German cities are now looking more closely at alternative travel and transportation concepts, increasing electric mobility and reducing the number of cars.
“[German cities] are experimenting with ride sharing services, creating more cycle paths, reducing car parking spaces and introducing electric buses in major cities such as Berlin. Innovative forms of transportation will be a major topic of next year’s ITB Berlin Convention as well,” he added.
The GTNB has also noticed that travellers to Germany are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and placing a stronger focus on their environmental impact.
Sharing just some of the sustainable offering available to visitors to Germany, de Mazieres said: “Travellers visiting Germany will witness various cultural and sustainable aspects of this beautiful country, which offers its guests vivid cultural landscapes in unspoiled nature with environmentally friendly transport infrastructure. This includes well-connected public transport systems for easy and quick access between cities and rural areas, with approximately 5,400 train stations and rentable e-bikes, as well as premium hiking trails covering more than 200,000km; 200 long-distance cycle paths; award-winning green cities; certified tourism providers; and 23,000 organic farms.”
JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
Another growing niche market in Germany is the health and medical wellness sector, which is currently playing an increasingly significant role in the development of the country’s tourism product.
Commenting on some of the trends influencing this growth, Lungwitz told TTG: “An aging Europe is having an important impact on health and medical wellness tourism in Germany, as the tourism industry is preparing to serve these growing numbers of elderly tourists that are looking for medical assistance and treatments while on holiday.”
The German Medical Wellness Association is set to chair the Medical Wellness Session at the IMTJ Medical Travel Summit 2019, taking place in Berlin this December. This session will fea¬ture talks from some of the leading medical wellness experts, with presentations span¬ning a wide area of medical wellness topics.
In a bid to further facilitate the experience for medical tourists to Germany, this year, the GTNB launched a new online da-tabase for BarrierFree (accessible) travel, the first of its kind to include a national labelling and ‘Accessibility Checked’ identi-fication seal.
Entitled ‘Travel for All’, the database ena¬bles the users to search for a wide range of accessible holiday facilities throughout Germany, including accommodation, res¬taurants, activities, shopping centres and essential services, such as accessible trans-port and local tourism offices. It includes an online map, showing the location of the item and linking directly to each supplier and the relevant certification.
“BarrierFree tourism services are a necessity for about 10 per cent of visitors to Germany and the database is highly useful for both consumers and tour operators,” said de Mazieres. “It is an aid not only to the actual travel planning, but also researching activities or accommodation from a trusted source that provides up-to-date information from certified partners in BarrierFree travel.”
Long famed for its healthy outbound market, Germany has been stepping into the limelight as a destination for incoming tourism, with a steady influx in arrivals from around the world in recent years.