ETW Staff – Mumbai
The state of Baden Wuerttemberg in Germany witnessed a 6.5 per cent increase in travellers from India between January to August, 2013. Total number of visitors from India reached 16,000 with an average stay of 6.2 days per visit totaling 100,800 overnights from India. These number are expected to increase further with 150,000 to 170,000 Indian visits expected to come to South West Germany by the year end. Speaking on the increase in the number of tourists, Hector D’Souza, India head, Southwest German Tourist Board and president, L’Orient Travels stated, “This is the highest percentage recorded from a single country as compared to tourist arrivals from other international countries.” Indian tourists also seem to stay for the longest number of days and have shown high spending power in South West Germany.
Though South West Germany is currently being promoted as a winter destination, it is also being positioned as a destination for film tourism. “We will soon be introducing the film tourism facility for filmmakers. That will happen by the end of November. We will be identifying the locations for film shoots and we will be providing simplified formalities for shooting films. The Black Forest is one of the best places for the film fraternity,” he opined.
Currently South West Germany has 390 online specialists across India and 1200 registered agents. The Germany Consulate in collaboration with VFS Global is planning to open visa application centres across four locations in India – Ahmedabad, Goa, Mumbai and Pune by the beginning of 2014. This step was taken in response to the increasing demand for Germany as an outbound tourism destination in India with an aim to boost tourism in Germany and offer quick services during peak occasions. D’Souza stated, “Germany gives around 50,000 visas annually with only two per cent visa rejection.”