Let’s travel together.

Symphonies and partnerships

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Every year Germany Travel Mart promotes a new destination and a new theme. The 38th edition held in Leipzig this year with the theme of business travel – Germany: open for business – trade fairs and conventions. This was quite apt with the choice of location as Leipzig is also known as the birthplace of trade fairs or messe in the region. Petra Hedorfer, CEO, German National Tourism Board threw light on tourism as a sector in Germany. She said that tourism generated 278.3 billion euros for Germany. This has been due to the increased number of overnights. The sector has also provided 2.9 million direct jobs for the local population. The importance of tourism as an economic growth sector can easily be understood as 4.4 per cent of the GDP is from tourism as compared to the 2.3 per cent from automobiles. “Germany is moving towards the service sector and tourism has become a key focus in this arena,” said Hedorfer. Of the value of business generated in Germany by business travel in 2011 was 13.5 billion euros and leisure travel generated 20.6 billion euros. According to GNTB the top five destinations in Germany based on pricing include Frankfurt, Munich, Heidelberg, Dusseldorf and Hamburg.

Germany now holds the number two position after Switzerland as the most visited place in the world overtaking France in 2011. The first quarter of 2012 has already seen inbound traffic of 364 million tourists which was almost 50 per cent of the total arrival in last year, added Hedorfer. Based on their success GNTB recently opened their 30th international office in the Balkans. She also added that in the current year Europe will have to master major challenges, but the plan for 2020 is to have at least 20 million overnights from international guests. Apart from promoting Germany as business destination, the other theme for this year’s GTM was ‘Wine  heritage and nature in Germany’ focussing on the specialities of the region – Reisling and Pinot Noir.

Growing business

While the biggest source market for Germany still remains the neighbouring European nations with a market share of 76.4 per cent, Asia still manages to conjure 9.6 per cent of the pie. This number reflects an increase of 12.1 per cent. Even though India is not one of the top 20 source markets for Germany yet, it is the third most important market within Asia only after China/Hong Kong and Japan. India contributed 5,47,480 overnight stays in 2011 and this number is estimated to go up to 15,00,000. “Average spend by an Indian coming into Germany is 2,650 euros,” informed Hedorfer commenting on the potential to grow.

With more than 600 visitors and 300 exhibitors, the two-day B2B travel trade meeting extravaganza saw tight schedules and detailed discussions which will bear fruit for Germany as a destination in the long run. It was evident with the enthusiasm towards the Indian market, that destinations and tourism products that have made inroads into India already are reaping benefits, while others are looking forward to work closely with India and find the right allies for the same. Corinna Born, manager PR/Marketing Communications, Business Division Aviation, Munich Airport informed that there has been an increase of 20 per cent from 2010 to 2011 in the number of arrivals from India to Munich Airport, this growth also has its impact on the city of Munich as well. Similar success stories with India are also charted with the cities of Berlin, especially after the film Don 2, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt. Regions in South West Germany informed Martina Kohler, marketing and sales manager Overseas, State Tourist Board Baden-Wurttemberg has also seen a good growth from India. “We have seen an increase of 38 per cent in overnight stays in 2011, this accounts to 140,000 overnights. In 2012, we are expecting a growth of 20 per cent,” added Hans-Jorg Hadbawnik, sales representative, India and Russia, State Tourist Board Baden-Wurttemberg. There are also regions which yearn for Indian business as Kai-Michael Stybel from Wismar Tourist Board expressed, “We have great products for India, especially as a package with Hamburg and Berlin.”

German Convention Bureau (GCB) relaunches website

The GCB German Convention Bureau has announced the relaunch of its website www.germany-meetings.com. The website will now offer an expanded range of available languages – Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, English, Czech, Danish, Russian, Polish, Portugese, Brazil and Japanese. The new GCB website is closely linked with the website of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), reflecting the cooperation of the two partners within the framework of the theme for 2012 ‘Germany: Open for business – trade fairs and conventions’.

Describing the new website, Matthias Schultze, managing director, GCB said, “With the relaunch of the GCB, we are responding to the trend towards a mobile internet. All our content is now presented in a fresh, modern layout to ensure that it is easily readable, even on hand held devices. Clear user navigation provides simple access to a world of multimedia experiences as well as attractive and emotional content. The Google Map search function offers quick access to member information.”

The GCB website now also contains the new section ‘Key Sectors’. Regional expertise in key industries, is evident in the presence of influential companies and scientific institutions in a region, is becoming an increasingly important factor when planners are deciding on the location for an event due to the synergy possibilities, contacts, and content they can offer.

The ‘Green meetings’ area is another important element that has been expanded on the redesigned website. The GCB now offers suppliers in the German meetings and congress sector more tools than ever before, in order to publicise their strengths in environmental protection and sustainability such as the details on environmental certificates they have been awarded.

A new feature also as a part of promoting business of trade fairs and meetings was the sustainability of the event. GTM 2012 was a Green event, with special care put into the details – use of trains and public transport, Leipzig Convention Centre is Green Globe certified, use of FSC certified paper, etc. GNTB received GreenNote seal of approval by mygreenmeeting.de for GTM 2012.  Hedorfer informed that almost 25 per cent of trade fair and conventions venues in Germany have green certifications. Apart from promoting Germany as business destination, the other theme for this year’s GTM was ‘Wine Heritage and Nature in Germany’ focussing on the specialities of the region Reisling and Pinot Noir.

Hedorfer also threw light on GNTB’s social media activations which is specially designed to focus on the youth. “Almost one-third of visitors coming into Germany are under the age of 39 years, and internet has been the main source for them deciding on Germany. This has a multiplier effect.” GNTB is looking at online campaigns with user generated content. They have also developed a programme where pictures at German tourist sites can be uploaded directly on to FaceBook profiles using RFID technology. This is also the reason why the next edition of GTM which is to be held in Stuttgart in 2013 has youth as the theme.

Apart from the two-day business meet, the city of Leipzig spread out its cultural heritage to the global travel and tourism ambassadors with the inaugural event taking place at the Leipzig Opera House and the performance by choir boys of the 800 year old St Thomas Church Choir and the networking event at Moritzbastei, the last remnants of Leipzig’s medieval city fortifications.

Trade bytes
“GTM is a dedicated event on Germany with array of German travel products on offer. Indeed, the same met my expectation. I was able to access new product, new regions at the environment which was only dedicated to Germany. As an organisation we attend and exhibit at leading shows across the globe, but having a destination specific show is always important where you get to meet and explore new opportunities in very focus environment. Most of the exhibitors and contacts I met were very keen on exploring Indian market. For me this was the key highlight of the event. I met few destination management companies who are based in Germany but are willing to support multi-country itineraries and groups surrounding Germany if Germany is part of the programme makes it very ingesting to work on.”
Jaal Shah, Group MD, RezLive, TravelDesigner India

“We were looking for more suppliers in terms of hotels, transporters, attractions for our existing business of trade fair tours. We also wanted to know Germany as a tourist destination. I met and could identify transporters and hotels and are working on for better rates and better services. Some of the main highlights for me was meeting variety of suppliers across Germany and off course tourism boards who were so actively promoting respective destinations. Some of the new destinations which caught my eye included Rostok, Zugspitze, Dresden (Saxony), Romantic Road which we can promote to our clients.”
Swaytank Maheshwari, Director, Rainbow Vacations

“I expected to meet tourism boards, hoteliers, coach companies and incoming tour operators.  GTM most certainly met my expectations and more. It was amazing to see the variety of suppliers at GTM and the immense interest in the Indian market. Several of them are family owned and more than 20-25 years old. I think the highlight for me was the fact that I could actually meet up with some of the key personnel I wanted to meet in connection with my forthcoming large group of doctors visiting Munich in August. Unique products that I could see included the daily departures on the Romantic Route; scheduled departures for some circuits; river cruises that can be sold even to business travellers and attractions in some areas that we did not know that can have some potential. ( i e. Hiking Trails).”
Nayaz Noor, CEO, Safir Tours

“I was hoping to get a better glance of destination Germany and connect with more suppliers and network and it was a fruitful venture. Surely, the key highlight was the city of Leipzig and entire Saxony Region. GTM format is wonderful that you tend to see new cities / region which helps in planning itineraries or programmes for clients.

The Messe Leipzig Convention Centre is a great venue. The city also offers products like: visit to Porsche Leipzig and one can also visit Beautiful City of Dresden (Saxony, Germany). Saxony region can offer great location to our Indian cinema. Saxony as a region was a new product which we were not promoting earlier but after visiting the region surely it will be in our programmes.

Also meeting new attractions like Fridrichstadt Palast – a stage show in Berlin on the lines of Las Vegas; the Primus – Line Cruise –city tour cruise with options of meals on board is also a great product in the city of  Frankfurt; the Germany fairy tale route, the most visited Black Forest Highlands and Baden Baden.”
Vineet Gopal, Mng. Director, ENGEE Holidays