ITB BERLIN - Germany, one of the world?s largest outbound travel markets, is on its way to becoming one of world's top inbound travel nations. The country crossed 60 million overnight stays in 2010 and is targetting 80 million by 2020, with arrivals from China and India expected to figure highly.
Speaking at the ITB Berlin, Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), said: "Germany has the potential to stake out a permanent place for itself as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations."
She added, "We believe that growth of between 2 and 4 per cent is entirely realistic for inbound tourism, and the domestic market is also expected to grow by up to 2 per cent."
German domestic travel totalled more than 320 million overnight stays in 2010 and is projected at 390 million overnight stays in 2011.
While most of the projected growth in inbound arrivals will continue to come from the euro zone, with Spain and Italy offering the greatest potential, the GNTB forecasts further growth from Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and the Czech Republic. "Significant increases" are expected from the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Said Mrs Hedofer, "As the economies of these countries grow, so does the enthusiasm for travel of their people. The number of overnight stays by visitors from India could rise by an average of 13.5 per cent up to 2020. China is close behind with a projected increase of 9.3 per cent, followed by Brazil at 8.5 per cent and Russia at around 5 per cent.
"China and India are the most important future growth markets for Germany. The GNTB expects the number of overnight stays by Chinese travellers to double by 2020 from the current level of 1.1 million. The predicted figure from India by 2020 is 1.4 million."(Download the German Tourism Board's market research reports on Brazil, China, India and Russia).
The German tourism industry is undergoing a major revamp with much help coming from political parties because benefits are now trickling down to the small and medium sized enterprises.
Klaus Laepple, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) said: "With its wide range of holiday destinations and products, Germany has managed to withstand the impact of the global economic and financial crisis, to rise to the challenge of tough times, such as those during the volcanic ash cloud, and to make 2010 a record year."
Rainer Bruuderle, Federal Minister for Economics and Technology, said: "Germany's travel industry, which largely consists of small and medium-sized companies, has played its part in enabling us to overcome the crisis so successfully."
Ernst Burgbacher, Member of the German Parliament, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology says: "The tourism industry is one of the most important sectors in the German economy. Our task is to remain supportive of the key role played by Germany's incoming tourism industry and the opportunities for our economy that it provides. SMEs benefit particularly strongly from high numbers of visitors travelling to Germany."
Of the 60.3 million overnight stays recorded in 2010, visitors from other European countries accounted for more than 76 per cent. Both holiday and business travel were up strongly.
Said Mrs Hedorfer: "Since 2004, Germany has continuously outperformed the rest of Europe in terms of growth, and on the popularity scale now ranks second, behind Spain and ahead of France. Italy and Austria are fourth and fifth."
This year, Germany is projecting another boom thanks to international events such as the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 and the celebrations surrounding the 125th anniversary of the motor car.
Domestic travel is also booming. Said Mrs Hedorfer, "In 2010 the number of overnight stays by domestic travellers in hotels and guesthouses with more than nine beds and on campsites increased by 2 per cent year on year. In total, the German Federal Statistical Office registered more than 320 million overnight stays in Germany by domestic visitors - a record number.
According to EUROSTAT, this makes Germany the biggest internal tourism market in Europe, with an average of four overnight stays per head of population in their own country.
Another research company IPK International reports that major cities were the biggest winners, particularly Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Germany's capital recorded an increase in overnight stays of 7.7 percent, while Hamburg managed a rise of 8.6 per cent. Munich did slightly better with growth of 8.7 per cent. Frankfurt also recorded a significant increase (12.2 per cent) in overnight stays by German visitors.
Several culturally and historically important cities with a population of less than 500,000, also recorded growth. Munster, for example, recorded more than 1.1 million overnight stays by domestic visitors in 2010 (+7.7 per cent). Heidelberg was up by just under 6 per cent to around 600,000 overnight stays.
The positive trend in the towns and cities also rippled out into the neighbouring regions, some of which recorded double-digit growth figures.
In 2013, the GNTB plans to target younger groups with its theme of 'Germany for young people - vibrant, fashionable, innovative'. It will also mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the music composer Richard Wagner by promoting Germany's classical music heritage in selected source markets.