In 2015, for the first time ever, around eighty million overnights stays were made by foreign visitors in Germany, up by 5.4 per cent compared to 2014 and a twenty million increase when looking back to 2010. Germany’s most important source markets contributing to this successful development of inbound travel are the Netherlands, Switzerland, the USA and the UK.
Tourism plays a crucial role in the German economy, accounting for 4.4 percent of gross value added and contributing total consumer spending of €278.3 billion. Germany is the leading destination for city breaks and cultural travel by Europeans. Culture – from museums and music to design – plays a huge part in shaping Germany’s international image, and has helped it become the number one destination worldwide for culturally minded European travellers. Moreover, cultural travel – including city breaks, multi-destination tours and sightseeing trips – is the dominant motivation for foreign tourists in Germany. Also, our country is the most important source market for tourism in Europe.
Besides these general statistics, Germany is also the most important source market in Europe for religious travel, while the country is in sixth place as a destination for religious travel by Europeans (with Italy, France and Spain heading the list).
Michaela Klare:Culture – from museums and music to design – plays a huge part in shaping Germany’s international image, and has helped it become the number one destination worldwide for culturally minded European travellers.
Out of 41 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany, thirteen have a religious background. These include museums of international relevance as well as religious buildings such as Cologne Cathedral, the most visited landmark in Germany. But that’s not all: beautiful churches, peaceful monasteries and restful chapels are often open to the public as places of retreat and for religious meetings or even culinary events. Germany’s diverse history and culture are also apparent in the traditions of Easter, Whitsun and Christmas. People still go on pilgrimages and there is a dedicated section for Jewish travellers on the German National Tourism Board website.
Luther and tourism
A number of themed campaigns focusing on culture and religion were established over the years, and special year-long campaigns have been run that promote UNESCO World Heritage sites and Germany’s traditions and customs. In addition, a global campaign centred on Martin Luther was launched to tie in with the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation and to capitalise on the fact that there are 817 million Protestants worldwide, eleven percent of the global population. Firstly the key markets were chosen, then objectives were defined and multiple target groups selected. After that, attractive tourism programmes were put together, with an emphasis on the Luther towns and cities and the people he encountered in his life. To mark the anniversary, eight routes were designed that connect Luther towns and cities and tourist attractions, with the aim of creating a national highlight in conjunction with the Reformation summer in 2017. A broad variety of tools, worldwide activities and innovative concepts were deployed. Examples of best practice from the key markets included Switzerland’s PR influencer’s work, Hungary’s sales promotion activities focused on the original Luther Bible as well as a virtual reality hologram and social media campaign in the USA.
[Editor MMNieuws:] This article is an adaptation of the autor’s presentation at the Conference on Religious Heritage and Tourism: How to increase religious heritage tourism in a changing society, october 5-7 2016 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.