Germany focuses on sustainable recovery
The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) has been named Innovation Champion for its digital solutions, having made it to the TOP 100 2023 list for the third time in a row. Well placed to brace the demand of rising eco-conscious travellers, GNTB is Green Globe certified and looking forward to celebrate the 11th Barrier-free Tourism Day this March 17.
The January to November 2022 incoming travel numbers are out and they already give a very good indication of how the year went, Yamina Sofo, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, GNTB, tells TTN.
“From the GCC, Germany recorded 1,047,426 room nights, which is 125.7 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2021, but still minus 31.3 per cent compared to same period in 2019.
We are pushing sustainability so hard, just to show the possibilities. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice
– Yamina Sofo
“I’m positive that we end above 1.1 million room nights for 2022, because in December, we had around 60,000 nights.
“It’s been a very good recovery from the market: much stronger of course than other Asian markets. We’re the leading Asian market; the second strongest overseas market for incoming just behind the US. This is, of course, because of China is not there yet,” she tells us.
THE YEAR AHEAD
In light of the geopolitical situation, the GCC office of GNTB has received extra marketing budget for 2023 signalling the importance of the region and also that German suppliers are also keen to have a stronger grasp on the market, TTN learns.
“We are participating in a lot of our activities this year. Our Germany stand at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is fully booked - we have 12 participants this year at ATM. We’re doing Discovery Europe Travel Summit again together with Ireland, Austria and Switzerland the weekend prior at 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central. There will also probably will have around 25 German partners. In October, we will host our GCC roadshow where we’re taking our German partners to Doha, Kuwait, Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai meeting the local trade and media.”
Within Germany, the GCC trade is keen to come back to ITB especially because it returns after four years, Sofo says. “Next, we have our German Travel Mart in April – we are taking a delegation of 16 from the region, including 10 buyers who will have the opportunity to meet over 200 German partners. There will be a pre-convention tour: we have several big convention tours all around the country ahead of joining GTM in Essen, close to Dusseldorf.
“Important to note that we will be using local transportation, walking short distcances and shared shuttle services whenever necessary with the aim that the whole event is going to be emission neutral.”
From June 6 to 7 (plus post-convention tours), the GNTB Brand Summit will take place and a group of five journalists and influencers will be hosted.
Sustainability is something GNTB integrates in everything it does now; the umbrella under which it operates, Sofo says. “All of our campaigns and projects, Embrace German Nature, Accessible Travel and UNESCO Heritage Site campaign, ultimately feed into the UN’s SDG goals. It is relevant across all campaigns and all steps of the customer journey including destinations, regional and city authorities, hotels and transport.
Germany.travel has dedicated a sizeable section on accessible travel, which can be filtered via the type of accessibility needs, region, possibilities of travel.
“We are pushing sustainability so hard - just to show the possibilities. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice but I think if you have it in your face that you are able to book a sustainable hotel, compared to an unlicensed one, then why shouldn’t you? Because it’s good for me, it’s good for nature, it’s good for my generation.
“We also bring this subject up all the time with our local trade partners and OTAs. We ask them ‘Do you have options for sustainability?’ ‘When you put your itinerary together, can we feed it with a sustainable licenced hotel?’ ‘Can you not offer rent a car and perhaps recommend a train from Frankfurt to Munich?’
“If the client chooses a rent-a-car it’s a different story, but at least you proposed a sustainable option giving clients some time to think about it and then make their personal choice.”
We ask Sofo if the Middle East is ready for this kind of sustainability? Her answer is a surprise. “We’ve seen from studies conducted in the UAE, that the demand for sustainable travel is there and it’s increasing.”
“We’re in a very good position here in the GCC because the regional governance is pushing the sustainability agenda so hard as well. We have COP28 in Dubai by the end of the year. We had Sustainability Week in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago – there’s a lot being done by the governments, which keeps it on the top of mind for the people as well.”
Also feeding into sustainability is a brand-new campaign called ‘stay longer’. The Middle East office will be pushing a three-month online campaign in the region with the focus of staying longer. “The message is to make your trip more sustainable by staying longer in the destination you travel to. Stay longer and enjoy; combine cities and combine countries.”
“We at GNTB are always trying to be innovative, trying to listen to the needs of the travellers. We notice that the needs of the GCC travellers have been changing. We’ve seen a lot of solo travellers currently as well from the region. Solo travellers and female travellers.”
“It’s always evolving but Germany has everything on offer, for solo travellers, couples on their honeymoon or families seeking family activities. We have some of the most amazing family hotels in Germany in the countryside with mountains or on the coast with the seaside. These certified family hotels have eight to 12 hours of kids-led activities per day.
“We have wellness forests where you could appoint certified guides who will lead you through guided breathing techniques in the forest - this can be done for every age level. This is very interesting for this region, especially because we don’t have these outdoor facilities here and it will bring travellers closer to nature.
“We have also had some enquiries about football camps for kids of the summer and are looking into it.
“We’re so looking forward really to a strong summer, I think it’s going to be even better than last year,” Sofo says.