|Cologne, Germany hosted this year's German Travel Mart.|
COLOGNE—Germany announced its best-ever year for inbound tourism in 2010 at the 37th annual Germany Travel Mart.
“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).
U.S visitors accounted for more than 4.7 million of the 60.3 million overnight stays--an increase of 11 percent on 2009--ranking as Germany’s second biggest inbound tourism market behind the Netherlands 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.
A new digital media platform is spearheading Destination Germany’s marketing campaigns with the relaunch of its www.germany.travel website in April along with a major focus on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Several themed events are planned in 2011 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.
A record 1,000 delegates from 38 countries attended GTM 2011, hosted jointly by Cologne and Bonn, including 350 German exhibitors, 499 international buyers, 101 journalists, and 50 guests and escorts. The opening ceremony in Cologne Cathedral, and a second welcome event in Bonn’s former Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany, provided spectacular backdrops on the Rhine River for conference delegates.
In other GTM news:
Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) announced it will take possession of two new Airbus A380s this year, bringing its total to eight servicing New York, San Francisco, Miami, Tokyo, Beijing and Johannesburg. The A380 “double decker” service from Germany to San Francisco launched this week, the Miami service starts in June.
Germany’s national rail network DB Bahn (www.bahn.com) is expanding its services in Europe with plans to launch hi-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, FL.
GTM’s host cities, Cologne (www.koeln.de) and Bonn (www.bonn.de), also achieved record tourism growth in 2010. Bonn announced more than 1.2 million overnight stays, an increase of 6.1 per cent and 11,000 more than the previous record set in 2008. Cologne attracted 4.57 million overnight stays, up 10.7 per cent on 2009.
Leipzig (www.leipzig.de) is preparing for a busy year in 2012. In addition to hosting the 38th GTM next May, this historic city of music will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir, Church and School, and will also open the new Leipzig Music Trail. The 3.1 mile walking trail will connect the city’s most significant historic sites with distinctive stainless steel ground markers identifying each attraction.
More on Leipzig: Travel Agent heard a whisper that Arcona Hotels & Resorts (www.arcona.de) will open Bach14, a new boutique hotel combining the city’s classical music heritage with cutting-edge design this November. With a prime city center location in the Thomaskirchhof building, one of Leipzig’s oldest Renaissance houses, the hotel will offer 52 apartment style rooms and suites, decorated with a music theme, as well as a sleek wine bar.
Historic Highlights of Germany (www.historicgermany.com) announced at GTM its 2011/12 program of self-drive and rail tours for independent U.S. travelers featuring six themed tours to 13 of Germany’s most historic cities. Themes include Romans, Palaces, the Reformation, Romanticism and Wine, with car rental, accommodation and attraction admissions included in the package tariff.
Germany’s largest car rental company, Sixt (www.sixt.com), told Travel Agent that it will open branches in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in 2011 following the successful launch of its U.S. operations at Miami International Airport in February. No word on opening dates, but expect special deals as the company continues to expand in Florida.
Need another excuse to shop in Germany? Value Retail (www.valueretail.com), which operates two Outlet Shopping Centers near Munich and Frankfurt, informed Travel Agent it has added a Shopping Express coach service from Munich to Ingolstadt Village. Its new Tuesday service departs Munich train station at 9.30am returning at 4pm, complementing the existing Thursday and Saturday service. The coach operates daily (except Sunday) from Frankfurt train station to Wertheim Village Outlet Shopping.
Value for money was an underlying theme on GTM exhibition floor. One offer that caught Travel Agent’s eye was a Castle Tour Pass for self-drive travelers wanting to explore the Castles, Palaces and Gardens of Saxony (www.schloesserland-sachsen.de) in eastern Germany. The pass costs just €20 (approximately $29) and offers 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 (www.duesseldorf-international.de) 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 Air Berlin service Dusseldorf from various U.S. cities.