More than 500 attendees from 51 countries, including travel agents, group travel organisers and travel writers, visited this year’s host city, Dresden – the state capital of Saxony – to take part in the annual event. Organised by the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), it is the most important B2B platform for Germany’s inbound tourism industry.
Northern Ireland Travel News was delighted to have been invited to meet representatives of the GNTB and to take the opportunity to not only hear about the tremendous growth in Germany’s inbound tourism, but also to see the beautiful host city of Dresden up close.
Germany continues to be a popular destination for travellers from the UK and Ireland. Inbound travel to Germany reached a record high for the eighth consecutive year in 2017, with 83.9 million international overnight stays last year.
And the forecast for 2018 is for growth of between 3 and 4 per cent in overnight stays by foreign visitors. Both mini-breaks and city breaks are on the up, while Germany is also popular as a destination for nature-loving travellers.
Whatever way you look at it, Germany has everything a visitor could want, from a fascinating history to world-class culture, museums, art, entertainment and scenery. From palaces and parks and from cycling and scenery – not to mention its 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites – it offers both city and countryside attractions.
The UK is in fourth place when it comes to the most important source markets worldwide for Germany, just behind the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA.
Figures for Ireland show that, measured in overnight stays, Irish travellers increased by 14.1 per cent in January to February this year, compared to the same period last year.
The country is the first choice as a cultural or city break destination for Europeans and is becoming increasingly popular with young people in the 15-24 year old age group.
Each year the GNTB offers a theme-based campaign to attract the interest of both tourists and travel professionals and this year’s theme is Culinary Germany – the country has a rich variety of regional foods and local delicacies as well as a highly-respected wine market.
2019 will celebrate 100 years of the Bauhaus design movement, while 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in Bonn.
“Germany is very well positioned in the international tourism market,” says Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the GNTB.
“Growth at the end of 2017 almost trebled compared with the previous year. Positive economic data, political stability in important source markets and the excellent positioning of the Destination Germany brand in the international market all contributed to this strong showing.”
The focal point of the GTM, which took place from 6-8 May, was the two-day B2B workshop at Messe Dresden trade fair centre, where 338 exhibitors from the hotel and transport industries – together with local and regional tourism organisations – showcased the latest trends, developments and tourism-related products in Germany to the international audience.
As a symbol of just how far tourism in Germany has come in recent decades, Dresden was the perfect place to host the event this year.
Heavily bombed during World War II, wide-scale restoration work has helped to reconstruct the historic old town to its former glory, using original architectural blueprints to recreate the traditional style of buildings in the cobbled main square.
With 4.43 million overnight stays, Dresden continues to rank seventh among the top city travel destinations in Germany.
Its refurbished Kulturpalast (cultural palace) and concert hall, as well as the new arts and creative complex of Kraftwerk Mitte Dresden, together with the city’s application to be European Capital of Culture in 2025, are increasing its attraction as a travel destination.
With beautiful Baroque architecture around every corner, more than 50 museums, two symphony orchestras, a history of wine-growing, a tradition of art and culture going back centuries and a season of Christmas festivities, a tour of discovery through the Dresden Elbland region is a must.
That much you may have expected. But an International Dixieland Festival celebrating the style of jazz that developed in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century?
That’s one of the unexpected things about Dresden, that it can surprise and delight in the most creative and unusual ways!
One of the annual highlights of Dresden’s Dixieland festival, which runs from 13-20 May this year, is the riverboat shuffle on the Elbe, when the world’s oldest and largest fleet of paddle-steamers (based in Dresden) becomes a floating stage and festival-goers are invited to step aboard.
The Top Four German Destinations for UK visitors are:
- Frankfurt (am Main)