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13 Mar, 2006

Germany Seeks Tourism Dividend From World Cup 2006

BERLIN: The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is moving rapidly to take advantage of this summer’s “festival of World Cup football” to attract around five million additional overnight stays.

Alongside the millions of fans who will be watching their teams in the stadiums or on giant screens in towns and cities across Germany, the organisers are predicting a TV audience of around 40 billion.

“We are exploiting this huge public interest to permanently enhance the image of Germany around the world as a travel destination, one which will continue to offer a friendly welcome and diverse appeal long after the tournament has finished”, said Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the GNTB in a press conference at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel show.

The huge numbers of football fans expected to visit Germany is further bolstered by the participation of neighbouring countries like France, the Netherlands and Poland. High-spending target groups from the USA, Japan and Saudi Arabia are also expected.

GNTB is hoping to showcase the country’s “comprehensive transport infrastructure” and “consolidate Germany’s leading position as a venue for trade fairs, conferences and congresses.”

Major events such as the Olympic Games and international football tournaments in the past have been shown to have lasting benefits for the host country’s trade fair and conference sector.

According to Ms Hedorfer, “The GNTB has incorporated the theme of football into its sales and marketing activities for the past few years. An integral element of the Germany stand touring trade fairs around the world is the GNTB’s ‘Football Corner’, which provides information about the twelve FIFA World Cup Host Cities and their surrounding regions.”

A World Cup pocket guide, published in January 2006, is designed as a “handy brochure that tells you everything you need to know about the top tourist attractions and the stadiums in the twelve FIFA World Cup Host Cities.”

Useful extras include a fold-out map of Germany, a “what’s on” guide and a match schedule. Two million copies of the pocket guide were printed in 14 languages and distributed worldwide.

In 2005, German hotels with nine or more beds and campsites generated 48.2 million overnight stays by foreign visitors, up 6.4% on 2004. Since 1993, the number of overnight stays by international visitors in Germany has increased by around 14 million, or 45%, and growth has been particularly dynamic since 2003, Ms Hedorfer said.

Today, foreign visitors account for around one fifth of all overnight stays in Germany, half of all overnight stays in Frankfurt and one third of all overnight stays in Berlin. With receipts of Euro 23.2 billion in 2005 and Euro 25 billion forecast for 2006, the incoming travel sector is an important factor in the German economy.

In 2005, overnight stays by foreign visitors grew by 9.5%, with particularly strong growth from Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, the U.K. Visitors from Ireland were up 20.2%.

Much of this growth has been attributed to the new wave of low cost airlines in Europe.

The Netherlands is still the most important volume market with an increase of 5.1% to more than 8.4 million overnight stays. Visitors from the US totalled 4.4 million overnight stays, up 2.4% on 2004 – which Ms Hedorfer called “a particularly impressive result given the unfavourable exchange rate for Americans.”

Overnight stays by visitors from the Middle East and Far East grew by 6.9%, with particularly high growth from the Arab Gulf States, up 26.7% to 649,000 overnight stays, the highest growth rate shown by any market for incoming travel to Germany in 2005.

Last January 2005, the GNTB opened its 29th foreign office in Dubai, in collaboration with Lufthansa. The number of flights by Gulf carriers to Germany has also grown considerably, with Emirates last week launching its newest destination of Hamburg.

Overnights by visitors from South Korea were up 8.8%, China +8%, Japan was up only 2.1%. However, the “Germany in Japan 2005/2006″ campaign and the 2006 FIFA World Cup'” are expected to have a positive impact in 2006.

City breaks were particularly popular with international visitors in 2005, up 15% from Europe alone, most of which can be attributed to new low-fare deals.

Hannover recorded the highest growth in 2005, with foreign visitors up by 27.2%. In addition to its growing importance as a premier international trade fair centre, Hannover also benefited from hosting the Confederations Cup in June 2005.

Other cities recording above-average growth included Berlin (+19%), Dresden (+14%), Cologne (+9%) and Munich (+8%).

Youth hostels also saw a 19.9% increase in the number of overnight stays by foreign visitors in 2005 which Ms Hedorfer attributed to the “extensive modernisation and development work carried out to meet growing demands in the low-cost travel sector.”

Inspite of the emphasis on inbound, it was still the outbound that ruled the roost, with Germans retaining their role as the world’s biggest travellers in 2005, generating 75.6 million international trips, well above the Americans with 64.5 million.

While the country earned 23.2 billion Euros from inbound visitors, outbound Germans spent 58.9 billion Euros. In 2006, these figures are forecast at 59.4 billion Euros and 25 billion Euros respectively.

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