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Sustainable Tourism

The Corona pandemic has severely limited travel. Prior to this, the industry was growing steadily – including in the segment of eco-tourism.
© Czauderna

Germans like to travel. In their own country as well, indeed especially there. The Corona pandemic has strengthened this trend. For years now the Alps, the coasts, the North German lakes, nature reserves, and river valleys have headed the list of destinations. Germans have long since shared a passion for the diversity of the countryside, and for sightseeing, sport and relaxation options with guests from abroad. Before the pandemic, Germany was gaining popularity as a tourist destination year after year.

In 2019, the number of overnights rose to 495.6 million; guests from abroad accounted for 89.9 million, which was a record. The positive trend in tourism to Germany began immediately after German Reunification back in 1990 and has since led to a steady rise in the number of overnight stays by foreign guests – by around 88 percent. Most recently, a good 75 percent of all foreign guests came from Europe, primarily from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Great Britain, and Italy, while 7.5 percent came from the USA. At the same time the number of visitors from Asia and Africa was rising, although the Corona pandemic will bring a stop to this increase at least for the time being.

A successful trade fair location

The same goes for the trade fair industry: In 2019 Germany yet again maintained its position as the no. 1 conference and congress centre in Europe. In the international congress centre rankings, Germany is in second place behind the USA. Some 253,000 international exhibitors came to trade fairs in Germany, and five of the world’s ten biggest trade show companies are based here. Germany’s share of the global trade fair market most recently amounted to almost ten percent.

Popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites

According to a survey conducted by the German National Tourist Board, the top international visitor attractions include classics such as Neuschwanstein Castle and Cologne Cathedral. The numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, among them Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam and Classical Weimar, are also popular.

Like culture, movement in general plays a big role in Germany’s appeal. Around 200,000 kilometres long, the network of hiking trails alone offers extremely good conditions and magnificent views, for example on routes through the national parks or against the backdrop of the magnificent Alps. On top of this there are more than 200 well-established long-distance cycle trails covering tens of thousands of kilometres, for example the Iron Curtain Trail (1,131 kilometres) or the 818-kilometre-long German Limes Cycle Route. Those looking for a cheap night’s accommodation will find plenty of opportunities, for example in one of the 450 youth hostels, or on one of the approximately 3,000 campsites.

Feel-good holidays and environmentally friendly travel

Wellness is an important topic in Germany. It includes such unusual features as the river sauna in the Emser Therme thermal complex, as well as the numerous feel-good facilities in spa resorts such as Bad Wörishofen and Bad Oeynhausen, with its Wilhelminian-era architecture. In Germany, there are over 200 spa resorts, which use a label recognised by the “Deutscher Heilbäderverband”, the German Association of Spa Resorts. The quality of the medical treatment and support also attracts numerous guests to Germany.

Ever more frequently, travellers are not only taking care of their own wellbeing, but are also paying attention to the environment. In Germany, the demand for ecological tourism and sustainable travel is growing. Organic farms offer holiday rooms, there are 106 nature parks and 16 biosphere reserves, in which great importance is attached to sustainable development and biodiversity. In order for everyone to be able to move around easily in Germany, countless initiatives ensure that the disabled too can travel without hindrance.

Virtual travel during the Corona pandemic

The five federal states that formerly made up East Germany play a major role in tourism. After Reunification, tourism proved to be an opportunity for many regions in eastern Germany to put themselves on a sound economic footing. Areas of countryside such as the Spreewald biosphere reserve, cultural centres with long-standing trad­itions such as Dresden and Weimar, and Baltic seaside resorts such as Binz on the island of Rügen attract tourists from Germany and abroad. Since 1993, the number of overnight stays in eastern Germany has more than doubled.

The corona pandemic has severely restricted travel to Germany and also mobility within Germany. For this reason, the focus is shifting to opportunities for virtual exploration of the country. Many cities offer around 360-degree views of their sights or virtual tours. German museums, theatres and concert halls have also found innovative ways to give interested people insights from home.