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German tourism increases again

The German National Tourist Office has released the latest figures for visitor numbers in 2015, and the news is good. The momentum of recent years is continuing, with an overall increase of 5.4 percent to 79.7 million overnight stays, the sixth record result in a row. The European mean is plus 4.7 percent, so Germany continues to beat the average. Some 28 percent of last year’s visitors were there for the first time.

Looking back, this year’s result represents over 100 percent growth in Germany’s tourism since the year 2000, and it places the country sixth in Europe, behind (in order) Spain, Italy, France, UK and Austria (the latter only just).

Breaking down the figures even further, it seems that city breaks are easily the favourite activity, at 33 percent of the total, followed by multi-stop tours (21 percent). In both those categories, Germany is well ahead of the European average, but it lags behind that average massively when it comes to waterside holidays (only 8 percent in Germany, compared to 32 percent elsewhere in Europe).

Put simply, this lack of waterside holidays will forever be Germany’s Achilles heel. Water is a huge attraction for summer holiday mass tourism. The numbers who head for a sunny beach will always far outnumber those who decide to opt for a city. And Germany is not a beach destination, despite its two coasts; neither the Baltic or the North Sea are sufficiently appealing for northern Europeans with access to cheap flights to the Med.

So this lack of beach holidays means that families will generally go elsewhere. Which in turn means that German holidays are not going to feature in many people’s childhoods, so Germany tends to be a travel discovery made in one’s 20s, at the earliest.

That also means that the nation has to try harder than others. Many tourists return to the likes of Spain and France out of sheer force of habit, and because they don’t dare risk anything better. So Germany has to work hard to tear travellers away from their comfort zones, and these numbers show that it is doing so with steadily increasing success.

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