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Tuesday, 12 May, 2015, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

Germany Travel Mart 2015 once again attracts largest contingent from Asia

The 41st edition of the largest inbound travel workshop of Germany’s tourism industry, Germany Travel Mart (GTM) was held in Erfurt, Thuringia from April 26-28, 2015. About 98 per cent of the attendees were satisfied with the event programme, and 90 per cent claimed to return next year. Akansha Pandey reports
For the first time ever, the three-day Germany Travel Mart (GTM) was held at Messe Erfurt Exhibition Centre and was jointly hosted by the cities of Erfurt and Weimar in Thuringia. The B2B workshop saw over 18,000 pre-fixed appointments being conducted with the use of networking tool. The federal state of Thuringia welcomed about 600 delegates, buyers and journalists from 45 countries, out of which 110 (largest contingent) were from Asia, which networked with about 340 German exhibitors. A few additional workshops focusing on smart luxury, Deutsche Bahn and Thuringia provided buyers with an overview of the recent and future developments.

The welcome ceremony on April 25, a day before the inauguration, took place at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering views of the Thuringian Forests. The inaugural ceremony was organised at St. Mary’s Cathedral, the oldest ecclesiastic building in Erfurt founded in the 8th century.

Calling GTM a perfect platform to showcase the tourism offerings of Germany, Petra Hedorfer, CEO, German National Tourist Board (GNTB), said, “About 4.4 per cent of the nation’s GDP comes from the tourism sector. Overall, there has been a 4.7 per cent increase in international arrivals and 5.1 per cent increase in overnight stays in 2014 over 2013, making Germany the second most popular destination for the fifth time in a row since 2010. The average room rate in German cities is DUR 87 (+ 1.6 per cent), which makes it an excellent valuefor- money stay. In the current year, GNTB is aiming at a growth of 3-4 per cent in Inbound Tourism, and by 2030 it aims to achieve more than 121 million international overnight stays a year and a 100 per cent increase in market share.”

Talking about the importance of India for German tourism, Hedorfer stated that India ranks third in terms of overseas market after the USA and China. After 2004, GNTB has witnessed arrival figures triple and a growth in interest to travel from India. In the previous year, GNTB recorded 650,103 overnights (a 5.6 per cent increase over 2013) and 194,221 tourist arrivals from India, including camping. She informed that GNTB would be increasing its presence from the already existing 30 markets to newer regions such as South East Asia and South America.

‘Traditions and Customs’ is the tourism theme for the current year, to attach an emotional linkage of travellers with the rich historic past of Germany. The next year would focus on ‘Holidays in the Heart of Nature’, whereas 2017 would highlight ‘Luther – 500 years since the Reformation’, and 2018 would promote ‘Culinary Germany’, elaborated Hedorfer.

Talking about the future plans, Bjorn Bender, Head of Area Management Southern Europe, Deutsche Bahn, said, “We are aiming at massive expansion of long-distance services by 25 per cent by 2030, thereby catering 50 million additional passengers each year. Moreover, by the end of this year travelling from Frankfurt to Dresden would get 65 minutes quicker and travel from Frankfurt to Leipzig would reduce by 35 minutes. Deutsche Bahn has already implemented free Wi-Fi and integrated free seat reservations in first class and the same would soon be replicated in second class as well. The international website (www. bahn.com) will be developed and further upgrades of online sales will follow.” Bender added that the fleet would also be renewed by 2030.

Barbel Gronegres, Managing Director, Thuringia Tourism, introduced the delegates to the state of Thuringia, popularly known as the ‘Heart of Germany’ and talked about the highlights of the region such as the Erfurt Christmas Market, hiking and walking trails in the Thuringian Forest, Hainich National Park, the varied culinary experiences, etc. He stated that the tourist arrivals from India to Thuringia are minimal, but this edition of GTM would give the much needed mileage to the region. The 42nd edition of GTM will be held in Magdeburg, the capital city of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, in 2016

Buyer Speak
Devesh Khanna, Head – Retail B2B, Franchisee & Airports MakeMyTrip
The common workshop at the beginning of the event elaborated on the importance of the Indian market, and the business received from the region, opening up of newer avenues and their cutting-edge technology. I attended the Deutsche Bahn workshop-cuminformation exercise, which gave us a good insight into their working, varied and differentiated products, and future plans. Our company has been promoting Germany for years now, but personally it was the first time that I attended GTM. It was a great opportunity to know about new tourism products and destinations, network with the old contacts, and discover opportunities to build for future business.
Chetan Gupta, Director – Sales & Marketing, R G Destinations
Although it was the first time I was attending GTM, I must say it was a fruitful and informative experience. I have been promoting Deutsche Bahn, thus it was apt to attend the workshop and know more about it. They elaborated on the recent developments that will eventually help us stay updated. The meetings at GTM with DMCs, tourism boards, and hotels were good, and we have already started working with a few of them.
Rohit Bijlani, Managing Partner Vacation World
It was my first time at GTM and I found it pretty useful in terms of growing business opportunities. It was an elating opportunity to meet new and unique suppliers in order to develop innovative itineraries. The Smart Luxury workshop mostly talked about the existing offerings that are well known to us. No doubt the information was useful, but nothing ground-breaking. On the other hand, the Thuringia Workshop was interesting as it gave us new insights into the state, and unexplored destinations such as Erfurt, Weimar, and Eisenach in Thuringia.
Gurpreet Johar, Director Red Carpet Tours
It was my first year of attendance and it was a brilliant opportunity. I promote MICE and business visits from India to Germany, which is why it made a big difference and enabled us to meet hotels, sightseeing tours and coach companies, all under one roof. I closed some excellent deals, renewed the old contacts and have already started working with a few new suppliers. Undoubtedly, I plan to be back next year as well.

Exhibitor Speak
Anja Dietrich, Marketing International Weimar Tourism
We are looking forward to work with newer markets such as India. The decision to participate in the roadshows held in the Indian cities is underway. We would surely like to give it a thought as Weimar is well placed in terms of culture and history to cater to the Indian travellers, thereby boasting of two Indian restaurants.
Claudia Mitchell, Deputy Head of International Marketing Bavaria Tourism
Bavaria observed 130,000 overnights in 2014, which is a two per cent decline over 2013, and 38,000 tourist arrivals in 2014, up by four per cent over 2013. The overnights have gone down as compared with the previous year, but still the number of tourists coming from India is good. Besides, in the first two months of 2015, we noticed 17,300 overnights and 5,500 tourist arrivals. Seeing the upward trend, we aim to create awareness about newer products as well.
Dr Annette Biener, Manager – International Marketing Frankfurt Tourism and Congress
The response from the Indian market to Frankfurt has been growing well. During January to February 2015, there has been an increase of 23.05 per cent in overnights. In 2014, the destination observed 16,411 overnights from India and 6,368 tourist arrivals. The figures, especially of business travellers, have been surging from May last year with the Indian Rupee going strong. With this positive trend we plan to come to India for a roadshow in November this year.

Gregor Gosciniak, Head Marketing Cologne Tourist Board
In 2014, Cologne recorded 51.6 per cent increase in overnights and 64.9 per cent growth in arrivals. The first two months of 2015 have also been overwhelming, despite being the off-season for Indians. We have been reaping benefits of tapping the Indian market since the formation of India Pool (which was dissolved last year) and have benefited by offering activity-based tourism to Indian travellers.

Hans Jorg Hadbawnik Regional Director – India & Russia, Stuttgart Marketing
Indian tourist arrivals have been increasing to our region. We have recorded eight to nine per cent increase in both arrivals and overnights in 2014 as compared with the previous year. The response to our training module ‘Going Cuckoo’ has also been overwhelming with 475 certified specialists in India so far. Besides, we keep gaining from the biggest Bollywood event in Stuttgart outside India organised in July every year (from past 12 years), and the Stuttgart Wine Festival, Mumbai held every year in January.
Matthias Gilbrich, Marketing Manager – International Markets, Dresden Marketing Board
The destination of Dresden in the state of Saxony also observed an excellent increase in tourists from India. Dresden recorded 6,000 overnights, an increase of 88 per cent and 1,700 arrivals, up by 52 per cent in 2014. The average length of stay was 3.5 days.
Wolfgang Gartner, Head – International Marketing
Visit Saxony The region of Saxony has also seen an upward trend with 25 per cent increase in overnights in 2014 over 2013. We are waiting to see whether this is a consistent trend or just a fluctuation. I also plan to come down to India for the roadshow in November to promote our South East region, popularly called ‘Saxon Switzerland’.
Steffi Gretschel, Sales Manager, Leipzig Tourism
The arrival figures from India were way below expectations last year. Overnights have reduced by 7.2 per cent and tourist arrivals were 662 in 2014. This year we are celebrating the ‘1000 years of Cultural Heartbeat’ in Leipzig, Saxony and our region is extremely popular with youngsters, thus also termed as ‘New Berlin’.
Anne Greth Paulus, Head of International Sales & Marketing, Baden-Baden
The tourist figures from India are growing, but we still need to go a long way. We plan to come down for the India roadshow in November this year and make sales calls in Delhi and Mumbai for a week.
Silke Walter, Marketing Manager – International Markets,
Hamburg Tourism Hamburg witnessed 19,267 overnight stays from India in 2014, which is a 4.8 per cent decline as compared with the previous year. The average length of stay was however 3.1 days. We have stopped promotional activities in the Indian market as there has been no improvement in figures. But we are open to providing assistance as and when required.

Inka Rehahn, Deputy Director Market Management Visit Berlin
We launched the Visit Berlin App in March 2015, which is now available on Android and iOS devices. Instead of any theme, the destination is promoting local offerings for tourists and an e-learning module for tour operators.

The official from Black Forest Tourist Board informed that they noticed 21,500 overnights and 5,600 arrivals, which was a decrease of eight per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively over 2013.

 
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