TORONTO — How important are travel agents to Germany? Very.
According to Julia Dywelski, the newly appointed Director of Marketing & Sales-Canada for the German National Tourist Office, over 50% of Canadian bookings are made by travel agents. “So travel agents are a very important group for us,” she told Travelweek at last night’s Destination Germany Roadshow in Toronto, which was attended by over 100 agents and suppliers.
Dywelski, who started her new role on Aug. 7, wants agents to know that they can call, email or text her at any time with questions about the destination. And although she doesn’t come from a travel background (she previously worked in international education in Vancouver), as a native of Paderborn, Germany she not only knows the destination inside-out, she’s also very passionate about it.
“Most people don’t know that Germany is so diverse. It’s more than just the big cities of Hamburg and Berlin,” she said. “This year, we’re focusing on Culinary Germany (the country is home to 287 Michelin-starred restaurants), while next year’s theme will be about our architecture. And of course, there are the Christmas markets, which we’re known around the world for.”
The fact that Germany is so many things to so many people has made it one of the top destinations in Europe. In 2017, it celebrated its eighth record-breaking year in tourism, with 83 million overnight stays by foreign guests. In the first half of 2018, the country recorded approximately 670,000 overnights from Canada, an increase of 8% over the same period in 2017.
“We had good growth in 2017 and this year we’re already up 3% in the first six months. As expected, June and July were our most visited months, but we’re expecting more growth around Christmas time,” said Dywelski.
Germany is also gearing up for Oberammergau Passion Play 2020, which takes place every 10 years in the town of Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps. Bookings are already well underway, with Collette, a supplier at last night’s Roadshow, reporting 60% of its seats already sold out.
Adding to Germany’s appeal is its value for money, added Dywelski, who said a hotel room in Berlin costs an average $97 per night, compared to $250 per night in other major European cities. Moreover, Germany’s air connectivity makes it especially appealing to Canadians; flights are currently available with Air Canada, Lufthansa and Condor out of major gateways like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Whitehorse, plus Primera Air is set to add Frankfurt flights out of both Toronto and Montreal starting in July 2019.
“We have strong direct flights from Frankfurt and Berlin to Canada,” added Dywelski, “so we have the capacity for Canada to be an even bigger market.”
For more information on travel to Germany, go to www.germany.travel.
Julia Dywelski can be reached at (416) 935-1896 ext. 224, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.