GCC has been an important source market for Germany. At a recent interview Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) shared an assessment of the current situation in inbound tourism and insights on the new trends in travel. One of the major trends is that COVID-19 has lead to greater interest in sustainable holidays.
Q The travel industry has been under extreme pressure since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think the future holds for inbound tourism to Germany?
The figures for global tourism are indeed worrying. The United Nations World Tourism Organization expects international arrivals to have dropped by between 60 and 80 per cent this year. Around the world, Germany is perceived to have managed the crisis comparatively well. However, inbound tourism depends not just on the situation in our own country but also on what is happening in our source markets. The recovery phase will last at least until the end of 2023, according to the latest findings of analysts at Tourism Economics. Travel to Germany from Europe will recover more quickly than from our overseas markets, with leisure travel recovering more quickly than business travel.
Q What can you as a National Tourist Board do to boost tourism while the coronavirus pandemic is still with us?
We have identified various areas of action to focus on. First of all, we are analysing markets and market segments very carefully for their potential for recovery. It is here that we will concentrate our marketing activities. This leads me directly to our second area of action, customer centricity – anticipating what tomorrow’s customers will expect. We are not only seeing that travellers are becoming more safety-conscious, but also that they are showing greater interest in sustainable tourism. And we are using this shift in attitudes to refocus our brand. The third area of action is digital empowerment – gaining a competitive edge through innovative marketing. As destinations begin to compete again in the new normal, digitalisation will play a crucial role. We and our partners are putting our faith in digital solutions, including chatbots that rely on artificial intelligence to answer questions, the use of digital voice assistants, and a major open-data solution for the German inbound tourism industry.
Q Will the coronavirus pandemic lead to new trends among travellers that might affect Germany as a travel destination?
Customer behaviour is constantly changing, irrespective of coronavirus, but the pandemic is accelerating many changes. COVID-19 has led to greater interest in sustainability, for example. Almost 80 percent of foreign travellers from our most important source markets think the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more sustainability in tourism. In the latest COVID-19 study conducted by IPK International, 55 per cent of respondents stated they would generally consider nature-oriented holidays as an option, while a further 21 per cent stated that they were even more likely to consider them during the pandemic. The GNTB website www.germany.travel/feelgood lists more than 1,000 certified accommodation options for particularly sustainable holidays, from eco-campsites to luxury hotels.