Germany plans to welcome a million guests from Indian shores by 2020

Driven by attractive incentives, in-expensive travel and plenty of activities on offer, Germany is gaining momentum as a preferred getaway in Europe. As German National Tourist Office pitched for more Indian clientèle with a massive contingent showcasing their offerings in the back-drop of French terror attacks; it will only be a temporary blip to an otherwise promising tourism connect between the two nations, opines Romit, Director Sales & Marketing, German National Tourism Office.

Romit TheophilusRight from romantic and exquisite cruise routes, it has cities like Cologne and Baden-Baden – which are great getaways. Then you have the Northern shores and enchanting castles,” explains Romit, as he shares what Germany has on offer for the discerning Indian traveller.

Sharing that the inspiration of the Disney castle came from the famed Neuschwanstein castle – which is a wonder in itself, he further adds that, “It is high on festival quotient; the Oktoberfest is a world-renowned gathering.  We also have Cologne carnival which is the second biggest carnival after Rio carnival in Brazil.”

Debunking the myth that Germany was an expensive destination to visit, he contests that it is an affordable destination and shopper’s paradise.  Stressing on the availability of high-class infrastructure for its success, he cites the example of high-speed rail network – which ensures that one can travel from anywhere to anywhere without fuss. “Self-drive using Autobahn – a network of 11,000 kilometers of road with literally no speed limit is another fascinating way to explore Germany. Indian auto-mobile license is valid in Germany, so Indians can take advantage of that,” he shares.

Developed air-connectivity is another reason for its increasing prominence, we were told. “It’s not only Lufthansa that cements our fantastic air-connectivity between the two nations. Air-India plays a very important role; Air-Berlin with their Etihad connection and Jet Airways have bolstered connectivity,” adds Romit. “Emirates and Turkish Airlines, too, have helped us expand our reach. So, to be honest with you, we have been lucky enough to have a number of carriers flying into Germany,” he says.

Commenting on the possibility of opening of flood-gates, if the archaic rule of 5/20 is scrapped in the near future, he says that, “I hope that happens. We do know that German Airports have been in India and have tried to pitch different air-careers to come to their airports,” he says. Frankfurt airport used to be a part of the GMR arrangement here in Delhi as well. So, we are hoping that more players do join in,” he further adds.

Divulging that the focus of the German Tourist Board lied in promoting major cities, he shares that, “essentially, these are the important destinations which see majority of Indian outbound. In terms of region, Black Forest holds prominence. Another, noticeable trend is that a lot more people are going in for MICE and corporate travel, so incentive business has picked up a lot; we get anywhere between twenty and a two -thousand people.”  He further shares that some major insurance and paint companies had visited them.  He credits this surge to the availability of sixteen VFS (Visa Facilitation Centre) in India, making visa processing hassle-free.

With fourty percent business travelers; around twenty-five percent in MICE travel category and the rest falling in the leisure travel segmant, now, the focus has been on convincing the incentive and exhibition clients to spend a few days around important destinations and get a first-hand view of what’s on offer, we were told. “The response has been great, and a lot of them have come back with their families. We are happy to share that we are closing in on 7, 00,000 overnights – which is remarkable for us – and we are hoping to achieve 10-12 percent growth over the last year in terms of footfalls,” he shared. We were told that they were eyeing an ambitious target of reaching one and a half million visitors from India by 2020 and over two million overnights by 2030.

This mega-push could not have been timed better. In the back-drop of a dastardly terror attack in Paris that left the world dumb-folded, Germany National Tourist Office has done well to re-engage with its Indian clientele.  Commenting on the tragedy, he said that, “My heart goes out to the people of France and we would like to extend all help to the French Tourist Board as well. I would urge people to not get dissuaded to travel to France.”

Reassuring Indian outbound, he adds that, Germany had been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. “Even though, France is a close neighbour of Germany; I would recommend that there is no issue and no one should get discouraged by such acts.”

However, he agrees that there may be a short-term impact on the numbers, especially on the slowly emerging winter tourism segment.  “Yes, in the short term, it will remain in the minds of travelers, and unfortunately it will remain there at least till the Christmas break – but things will be back to normal by March- April, when we get our maximum traffic from here,” he contends.  “As winter tourism has also picked up in the past couple of years, so the actual impact on the ground is will be far less,” adds Romit.

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