The popular European destination of Germany is eyeing a new breed of tourist, while ensuring it continues to play to its strengths. Panayiotis Markides investigates.
Considered a key industry within the German economy, tourism is highly prized in this land of unforgettable gastronomy, scenery and culture. In fact, according to figures by visitBerlin, the German capital welcomed 28.7 million overnight stays from 11.9 million visitors in 2014.
Berlin’s outstanding performance was put into perspective by media relations manager – UAE/Middle East, visitBerlin, Sophia Quint, who informed TTG exclusively: “The number of arrivals and overnight stays has more than doubled since 2004, a development not seen in any other of Europe’s major cities.”
Agreeing with Quint was director international media relations, corporate communications, Munich Airport, Corinna Born who noted that Germany as a destination has gained prominence on a global scale as well as for the MENA market. “Germany steadily gains importance as a tourism destination. Among international travellers, and especially among Arab tourists, Munich and Bavaria count as [some of] the favourite tourism regions in Germany.”
Referring to Berlin, Quint added that the city is also Germany’s number one meetings destination, having hosted 11 million participants for more than 131,000 events in 2014.
With a growing tourism capacity fuelled by its business sector, the destination is eager to diversify its business tourism capabilities by blending a leisure element into a corporate traveller’s experience.
A ‘BLEISURE’ BOOM
Boasting such a strong business and meetings sector coupled with memorable cultural draws, it seems to come as a given that travellers would seek to enhance their trip further — adding a new dimension to their stay and giving rise to the ‘bleisure’ traveller.
Summing up exclusively to TTG how the property is ideal to cater to this new breed of guest was general manager, Jumeirah Frankfurt and regional vice president – Europe, Doris Greif who relayed: “Guests can relax and unwind at the hotel’s Talise Spa offering treatments specially designed with business travellers in mind, including jet lag and headache relief massages and the signature Skyline Honey treatment, which uses honey produced by the hotel’s four rooftop hives. Guests also have privileged access to the neighbouring Fitness First Platinum Club gym with an indoor swimming pool and a timetable of fitness classes.”
Greif additionally communicated that for such travellers, the hotel’s location is also key, being near not only to Frankfurt International Airport (one of continental Europe’s largest airports), Frankfurt Central Station and Messe Frankfurt, but also Zeil and Goethestrasse shopping streets, the financial district, as well as a multitude of cultural offerings. “The hotel is further attached to the MyZeil shopping mall,” Greif added.
Also cherishing its central location which is set to enhance its business prospects was general manager, Hotel Palace Berlin, Michael Frenzel who noted that the property boasts 2,400m2 of meetings space and 17 meeting rooms, however, he revealed that with Berlin Zoo across from the hotel, a business stay can quickly turn into a vacation. Quint shared with TTG a tip for business travellers visiting Berlin eager to immerse themselves in its leisure offerings: “People on business in Berlin can enjoy the rich mixture of Berlin arts, sports, entertainment and shopping after a day of work. Those who wish to experience Berlin off-the-beaten path are welcome to make use of the new visitBerlin app, Going Local Berlin.”
However, despite this ever-growing and popular trend, Germany is still retaining its focus on its more traditional and indeed successful sectors, such as medical tourism.
As an already-established segment in Germany, industry stakeholders appear more than ready to accommodate visitors to the destination solely for its medical facilities.
To this end, director of sales and marketing, Breidenbacher Hof, Britta Germann elucidated to TTG on the property’s expert facilities provided for this lucrative segment: “Medical tourism is trending in Düsseldorf and will continue to do so. With a very high density of medical experts and clinics in the city and the entire area of North Rhine-Westphalia, we see a strong development and need [for this segment].” She added: “We have focused on this trend right from the beginning and will continue to grow and improve in this segment.”
Germann revealed that the property boasts two clinics in-house focusing on internal medicine, cardiology, plastic and cosmetic surgery with direct access to the hotel.
Meanwhile in Berlin, Frenzel noted that for the remainder of 2015 the property will also be capitalising on health tourism: “In terms of tourism segments we are focusing on medical tourism since the Hotel Palace Berlin is near many clinics and private surgeries.”
And turning to the needs of the MENA market regarding this segment, Quint was keen to inform TTG that the tourism board uses medical tourism as a means to target MENA travellers, with visitBerlin attending exhibitions such as ATM and Arab Health in a bid to market Berlin as a destination for health tourism.
Germany is proving it can skilfully blend leisure with business, all the while not losing sight of its more well-established strengths.