Indian outbound tourism market was one of the fastest growth markets for Germany Tourism in 2022 with a 209.8 pc growth in overnights stays, compared to 2021, with over 600,000 room nights recorded last year. The rapid recovery has continued this year as well with the first three months of 2023 registering a 119.7 pc growth in Indian tourist arrivals compared to the same period last year.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi today, Romit Theophilus, Director, of the German National Tourist Office in India, briefed the media on the recovery in Indian outbound tourism market for Germany and also laid down the key focus areas around which Germany Tourism will run its campaigns this year.
‘‘As of March 2023, the Indian outbound market had recovered to a level of 89 pc of the corresponding period in 2019 and we hope that we should be able to reach and even surpass our 2019 performance of over 1 million overnight stays by Indian visitors by the end of this year,’’ Theophilus told the heavily-attended press conference held at the Embassy of Germany.
Theophilus added that a majority of Indian travellers were using digital tools to get information about Germany and even for booking their trip, with an average spend ranging between EUR 1,800-2,000 per passenger, including the airfare.
On the thorny issue of the delays in getting visas to travel to Germany, Georg Enzweiler, the newly-arrived Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy in New Delhi said that the he and his team were fully aware of the problems being faced by the Indian travellers and that the German government had taken several steps to cut down the waiting period. ‘‘Already, the waiting period has been reduced by 12 weeks last year to about 8 weeks this year and I am aware that this is not how we can get Indian tourists to visit Germany, so we are taking other measures also to bring the visa waiting timeframes further,’’ Enzweiler told the conference.
He added that though the number of people dealing with applications had been significantly ramped up and also now any Indian tourist could apply for a German visa at any of the VFS centres across India, irrespective of the place of residence, the number of applications had grown significantly and this was also partly the reason behind long delays.
Theophilus said that the profile of the Indian travellers to Germany has remained more or less same as the past few years, with middle-class and upper middle classes dominating. A significant evolution seen in the past few years is the main reason for travel. ‘‘While earlier, it was mainly business travel, now more than half the travellers visit Germany for leisure and holidays, even though business trips remain an important part of the mix. The growing number of Indian students studying in Germany has also led to a rise in VFR or visiting friends and relatives category of tourists,’’ Theophilus told the media.
Theophilus also outlined the key awareness and promotional campaigns to be run by Germany Tourism this year. ‘‘We are continuing to focus on sustainability and have centred one of our main campaigns around the theme of sustainability. Not many people realise that 75 pc of Germany is green and it is home to some of the most alluring sites for nature and wilderness. We have also identified and listed ‘Green Cities’ which are certified in terms of environmental conservation measures taken there,’’ Theophilus said.
In terms of the response of the Indian travellers to the focus on sustainability, Theophilus says the uptake of sustainability has been very encouraging in India. ‘‘It is partly due to the fact that we have always been very sustainability-oriented as a society. Maybe we had left some of that behind, but now we are rediscovering these elements and re-adopting them,’’ Theophilus tells India Outbound.
Theophilus said that two of the campaigns with a strong green focus promoted by GNTO have already had a successful impact last year and this year, these campaigns will played out with new travel ideas and inspirations.
He said that ‘Feel Good’ sustainability campaign promotes climate- and environmentally friendly offers in a very focused way. Potential international travellers can discover Germany’s national landscapes and sustainable holiday experiences in rural regions. Reeling off some facts, Theophilus said that one third of Germany consists of protected natural landscapes and that 16 national parks, 16 biosphere reserves and more than 100 nature parks vividly demonstrate how to protect the beauty of nature and preserve biodiversity for the future.
Similarly, ‘Embrace German Nature’ is a campaign that shows how diverse and unique natural landscapes in Germany are and how resource-friendly they can be travelled to. From the mainland right up to the islands, there are amazing cultural and natural landscapes throughout Germany, Theophilus told the media.
In addition to sustainability-focused campaigns, GNTO India is launching yet another campaign centred around heritage, he said. The campaign ‘51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites-Historic Modern Germany’ is aimed at the contrast between historic world heritage and the diversity of products in urban and rural areas, he said.
‘‘Germany offers guests from all over the world not only unique and authentic experiences in combination with a city and nature stay, but also sustainable travel experiences. Many offers in the context of our World Heritage Sites are accessible in a climate-friendly way by public transport. The campaign is designed to ensure that guests find the offerings so attractive that they plan a longer stay – which also supports a lower CO2 footprint,’’ he added.
Yet another highlight of the conference was yet another initiative by Germany Tourism, making the country accessible to people with disabilities. Theophilus said that Germany offered barrier-free travel as many regions of the country already take their needs into account. Thanks to the persistent commitment of politicians and accommodation providers, accessibility has improved in recent years and the necessary information is readily available to help people with disabilities plan their trips, he said.