TORONTO — With its world-famous Christmas markets, Germany has long been synonymous with the holidays. But the country is much more than just its mulled wines and twinkling lights – it’s a year-round destination that offers everything from outdoor adventure to romance, spas and culinary delights! And with major events set to take place in the near future, expect to see much more of Germany in the spotlight.
In this week’s Friday Five, we ask Julia Dywelski, Director Marketing and Sales Office Canada, German National Tourist Office, what we can expect from this powerhouse destination in 2019 and beyond.
1. Earlier this year, we reported a 5% increase in overnight visitors from Canada. What would you attribute this growth to?
Overnights into Germany from Canadian travellers are increasing. From January to September we reported an increase of 3.3 %, but with strong months leading up to the Christmas Markets not accounted for yet, we are forecasting an increase of 4% for 2018. The Canadian market is a quality market for Destination Germany. Canadian travellers tend to seek out destinations with a rich cultural background (definitely something that Germany caters to) and we are a culinary destination. What also helps is that airlift to Germany (to Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin) is easy and we are a hub into other parts of Europe.
2. Heading into the festive holiday season, which Germany is famous for, what kind of visitor numbers are you anticipating? And is there anything new this holiday season that tourists should be aware of?
Christmas is definitely Germany’s time to shine, we own that season! With more than a couple of thousand Christmas markets around all of Germany (basically every town and city in Germany has one), visitor numbers are on the rise. In 2017 it was more than 70 million visitors. There are so many different Christmas markets around the country. You can find an overview of some of them here: http://www.germany.travel/en/specials/christmas/christmas.html
While Christmas markets tend to be traditional, you will find several non-traditional elements at the markets themselves, like vegan food and trendy food stalls that serve dishes like pulled pork. It’s a nice mix. You can enjoy both traditional fare like mulled wine, eggnog and caramelized almonds as well as stalls that serve more than just Bratwurst.
3. Summer is obviously your busiest season, but are winter numbers increasing? What tips do you have for travel agents on how to sell Germany in the winter months?
Winter is a magical time in Germany. Of course, the Christmas Markets are a big sell but apart from that you have lesser crowds than in the summer. Airfare and hotels are more affordable. In cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich or Frankfurt there is so much to do regardless of the season and the weather. Then you have beautiful winter destinations in Germany like the Black Forest or the German Alps. Apart from downhill skiing, you can also go cross country skiing or snowshoeing. With castles being a big hit for Canadian travellers, they put on quite a show in the winter and look even more magical with a dust of snow than in the summer. And with so many spas and saunas all around Germany your clients can warm up and recharge after spending all day outside.
4. How are you planning on working with travel agents in 2019?
We will continue to provide agent training to showcase Destination Germany as a year-round destination to Canadian travellers. And as always the German National Tourist Office is here to help with anything Germany-related. We very much appreciate that travel agents are so keen on selling Germany to their clients!
5. What do you want all of us to know for 2019? Any major news for next year?
Destination Germany has a lot in store for 2019. One of the major events for Germany in 2019 is the Bauhaus centenary, the architecture movement that started in Weimar in 1919 before moving to Dessau and ending in Berlin. Several Bauhaus buildings were actually added to the UNESCO World Heritage list last year. There will be a new museum in Weimar in the spring as well as several events happening throughout the year.
Looking ahead to 2020, the Passion Play, which occurs every 10 years, will take place in the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau. The play was first performed almost 400 years ago after villagers were spared from the Black Death.
Destination Germany is so diverse, we’re encouraging everyone to come and enjoy a beautiful spring in Germany when everything starts to bloom, or in the summer months to enjoy our outdoor events, beer gardens and parks. In the fall, visitors can book a cozy spa trip or take in the wonderful fall foliage in Germany’s national parks. And of course in the winter months, Germany transforms into a winter wonderland. But the one thing visitors can depend on throughout the four seasons is our amazing range of culinary delights!
For more information go to www.germany.travel.