Last updated: 04:51 PM ET, Mon April 27 2015

German Travel Mart Underway

Travel Agent | James Ruggia | April 27, 2015

German Travel Mart Underway

Photo of Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board by James Ruggia

The 41st German Travel Mart is underway in Thuringia where the towns of Erfurt and Weimar are cohosting buyers from about 45 countries and overseeing some 18,000 appointments. Altogether about 1,000 members of the travel industry converged for the Mart. As 2014 came to a close, Germany could finely put behind it the bittersweet commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and Leipzig’s Peaceful Revolution. With those commemorations over, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) can begin consolidating the country’s recent success in growing its share of the market for travel to and within Europe.

With overnights growing by 4.7 percent in 2014, Germany posted its fifth consecutive record year. The U.S. grew 8.2 percent in 2014, and in the early going of 2015 the numbers are holding up: January and February registered a 5.9 percent growth. The GNTB measures visitation in overnights registered by hotels with 10 or more beds. Of Germany’s 75 million overnights last year, European travelers accounted for 56.3 million and overseas visitors accounted for 17.8 million. American travelers recorded 5.2 million overnights. Given the strong economy and advantageous exchange rate, a year-over-year increase in overnights from the U.S. is expected for the full year of 2015. American travelers pitched in €4 billion to the German economy last year.

According to a recently published study by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Germany’s travel industry was worth €278 billion to the gross national product (GDP) in 2014 and sustained 2.9 million jobs. The volume of travel to Germany expanded at a faster rate than the European average in 2014.The GNTB is optimistic that tourism to Germany will continue to grow strongly over the coming years and according to Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB, the country could realistically increase by nearly 80 percent to reach 121.5 million by 2030.

The National Brand Index, which evaluates the brand perceptions of 50 participating countries, ranked German tourism seventh based on a number of criteria. Just nine years ago in 2006 Germany was ranked 17th. Remarkably Germany was ranked first in the category of history and culture, outstripping countries such as France and Italy in what they’d considered their biggest strength. The recognition of German culture may be due to the GNTB’s tactic of using theme years.

Overall The GNTB has for several years now run their marketing through themes. Last year, the GNTB made the country’s 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites the focus of its marketing. This year the theme is Traditions and Customs. Next year will be Holidays in the Heart of Nature. In 2017, the GNTB will culminate the Luther Decade when it celebrates 500 years since Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door to “launch” the Reformation. Over the course of the decade starting in 2008, exhibitions, festivals, and concerts across Germany commemorated Luther. This will continue until 2017.

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