While much of the rest of Europe bumped along the bottom in 2010 in terms of tourist arrivals (and economic indicators), Germany had a particularly strong year.
Figures just released show that the nation recorded over 60 million overnight stays by international visitors, with international arrivals increasing by 11 percent at a time when most destinations are still coping with decreases (Spain, for example, was down one percent).
The number of UK visitors increased particularly significantly, by 13 percent, although the UK remains fourth in the league table of source markets, after the Netherlands, the USA and Switzerland, but ahead of Italy, Austria and France.
The largest single activity for visitors is city breaks (27 percent) followed by general tours (20 percent) and holidays in the countryside (10 percent). The most popular city is Berlin (8.5 million visitors) followed by Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne.
The most popular region remains Bavaria, followed by North-Rhine Westphalia (partly due to last year’s promotion of the Ruhr area as European Capital of Culture) and the Black Forest.
The German Tourist Office’s UK director Klaus Lohmann reckons that the increase in his nation’s popularity is because Germany is changing its image, moving from a rather austere, cultural, self-conscious, hard-working nation to one that ‘likes to party, to laugh at ourselves’. This new Germany is partly a result of the success of the World Cup back in 2006, which generated excellent worldwide publicity and a lot more self-respect amongst Germans. But he adds that Germany is still underestimated, and a destination with ‘so many hidden gems’, a sentiment with which we at GermanyisWunderbar certainly agree.
This year the nation hopes to build on the 2010 success with the Women’s World Cup, the 125th anniversary of the first motorcar, a wellness and spa promotion, and the 125th anniversary of the death of Bavaria’s castle-builder Mad King Ludwig. Next year’s themes are not so high-profile – business travel, wine and 800 years of the St Thomas choir in Leipzig – so maintaining the momentum is not going to be easy.