On location at GTM 2017: Canadian agents bucking the online trend
Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTO) and Antje Splettstoesser, Director for the GNTO in Canada

On location at GTM 2017: Canadian agents are bucking the online trend

NUREMBERG — Over 500 international travel industry representatives from 50 countries attended the opening reception of the 43rd GTM Germany Travel Mart in Nuremberg over the weekend. Taking place from May 7-9, GTM is an annual event organized by the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) in partnership with a different region or city each year. This year’s event is hosted by Bavaria Tourism (by.TM) and Nuremberg Convention and Tourist Office.

The event kicked off in grand style night with a special performance at the Nuremberg Opera House followed by a reception at the Germanisches National Museum. In her opening remarks, Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the GNTB, said: “Germany is very well positioned in the international tourism market. In 2016 we were once again able to build on our status as the second most popular destination for European travellers. The GTM is an ideal platform for satisfying the existing high demand for travel to Germany and for harnessing untapped potential. For us, this means intensive communication with the traditional travel trade as well as with online tour operators.”

On location at GTM 2017: Canadian agents bucking the online trend

On the appeal of this year’s host city, Jen Huwald, CEO of by.TM said: “Tradition, innovation and hospitality – three words that sum up Bavaria and that are reflected in the 2017 GTM. It is these attributes that make the Free State so special and that make it Germany’s number one region for tourists.”

“At the GTM here in Nuremberg our guests will experience at first hand what makes Bavaria so traditionally different,” he promised.

Following the welcome reception, GTM held a press conference during which it released the latest tourism statistics for the country. According to Hedorfer, only 12% of international holidaymakers booked travel offline, a decrease of 6%.

On location at GTM 2017: Canadian agents bucking the online trend

“They don’t use travel agencies anymore, they are going online,” she said, which is hard to argue with considering that 79% of travellers opt to book online.

The good news is this trend doesn’t appear to have taken hold in Canada, said Antje Splettstoesser, Director for the GNTO in Canada. “We don’t see that in Canada – 32% of people who are booking directly to Germany are booking through a travel agency,” she assured.

The number has gone down from previous years, she added, but comparing it to the worldwide average shows that Canadian agents are a much stronger presence than their international contemporaries.

Other statistics revealed that Canada has seen a drop in overnight stays in Germany, a decrease of 4.3%. Again, this proved not to be the whole picture as statistics didn’t take into account shared accommodation, river cruising and small boutique hotels.

Statistics Canada revealed in 2015 that Canadian visits was actually up by 20%, with expectations that numbers in 2016 would follow the trend of the last five years. “Overnights from 2010-2015 have increased by 12.5% from Canada, while visits have grown in the same timeframe by 76%,” said Splettstoesser.

On location at GTM 2017: Canadian agents bucking the online trend

So why the discrepancy? Canadians have fallen in love with river cruising, which isn’t counted as overnights. Early numbers for 2017 are showing double-digit growth for overnight stays, which the GNTO would like to see more of. The organization is encouraging agents to promote booking pre- and post-cruise stays in one of Germany’s many attractive cities.

“The GNTO has a long-term strategy for Canada,” added Splettstoesser. “The goal for 2030 is to get one million overnight stays,” which the GNTO said is attainable considering Canada’s growth as a source market.

Established in 1972, the GTM is the most important B2B platform for Germany’s inbound tourism industry. The focal point of the event is the two-day B2B workshop at the NürnbergMesse trade fair centre. Around 330 exhibitors from the hotel industry and transport industries – together with inbound tourist agencies and local and regional tourism organizations – will be showcasing the latest trends, developments and tourism-related products in Germany to an international audience of trade professionals. Guests include more than 500 key account managers from the international travel industry and media representatives from key source markets for inbound tourism to Germany. The delegates are able to hold meetings and do business with German service providers, as well as make new contacts and strengthen existing ones.