Reporter's Notebook: Germany Travel Mart


Chocolate Museum, Cologne
The chocolate fountain in Cologne’s popular Chocolate Museum.

Germany announced that 2010 was its best-ever year for inbound tourism. “Last year, for the first time, overnight stays by visitors from abroad passed the record-breaking 60 million mark,” said Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB).

This milestone was among many significant announcements reaching the ears of a record 1,000 delegates—including 350 German exhibitors and 499 international buyers—of 38 nations attending Germany Travel Mart (GTM) 2011, hosted jointly by Cologne and Bonn from May 8-10.

U.S visitors accounted for more than 4.7 million of the 60.3 million overnight stays—an increase of 11 per cent on 2009—behind only the Netherlands, Germany’s largest inbound tourism market, and ahead of Switzerland, the UK and Italy. The future looks equally bright with GNTB forecasting 80 million overnight stays by overseas visitors for 2020, an ambitious but “realistic” target, according to Hedorfer.

In Other GTM News...

A new digital media platform is spearheading Destination Germany’s marketing campaigns with the relaunch of its website in April along with a major focus on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Several themed events have been planned for the year, such as the 125th anniversary of the motor car, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday, and Health and Wellness in Germany, with wine heritage, nature and music taking center stage in 2012.

Lufthansa will take possession of two new Airbus A380s this year, bringing the total to eight. The A380 “double-decker” service to San Francisco launched on May 10; the Miami service started earlier this month.

Germany’s national rail network DB Bahn has plans to launch high-tech ICE trains from Germany to London by December 2013. The proposed schedule is three daily trips between Frankfurt (Main) and London via Cologne, Brussels and Lille, with the journey taking about five hours. The U.S. is a growth market for DB Bahn which has agencies in Chicago and Tampa.

GTM’s host cities, Cologne and Bonn, also achieved record tourism growth in 2010. Bonn received more than 1.2 million overnight stays, an increase of 6.1 percent over 2009, while Cologne attracted 4.57 million overnight stays, a 10.7 percent jump.

Leipzig will have a busy 2012. In addition to hosting the 38th GTM next May, this historical city of music will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the famous St. Thomas’ Boys Choir, Church and School, and also open the new Leipzig Music Trail.

Historic Highlights of Germany announced at GTM its 2011-12 program of self-drive and rail, themed tours for independent U.S. travelers to 13 of the most historical cities. Themes include Romans, Palaces, the Reformation, Romanticism and Wine, with car rental, accommodation and attraction admissions covered by the package tariff.

Value for money was an underlying theme on GTM exhibition floor. One offer that caught our eye was a Castle Tour Pass for self-drive travelers wanting to explore the Castles, Palaces and Gardens of Saxony in eastern Germany. The pass costs just $29 (20 euros) and comes with 10 days’ free admission to more than 40 estates, many within easy driving distance of Dresden.

Looking for a fast, hassle-free entry into Germany? Dusseldorf International Airport is emerging as a relaxed alternative to the much larger and busier Frankfurt and Munich airports with an efficient single terminal and an airport-city train service delivering passengers to central Dusseldorf in 10-12 minutes. Delta, Lufthansa and airberlin service Dusseldorf from various U.S. cities.

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