Germany says that it is confident of a full recovery in the Indian tourism market by the end of the year 2023, riding on a very strong growth already in progress in the current year, when the number of Indian tourists grew by 214 pc growth over the number in corresponding period of 2021.
At the first in-person press conference held by Germany Tourism in India in over two and a half years, Romit Theophilus, Director of the German National Tourism Organisation in India, said that the traffic of visitors from India to Germany has risen dramatically despite the flight connectivity which is still not at the same level as in the pre-pandemic period.
He said that as tourism revives, Germany is keen to promote two distinct themes – its local cultures as well as abundant nature. He added one of the major focus areas for tourism industry in Gemany, like in some other parts of the world, is to promote sustainable tourism.
“Not many realise it, but outside of the big cities, the local culture in Germany changes every 100 km, with differences in dialects, cuisine and other cultural aspects. This is something that Indians can relate to as it is the same here. So, we want the Indian tourists to experience the diversity in Germany as well,’’ Theophilus told India Outbound.
The other central theme of Germany Tourism’s promotional campaigns is Nature and eco-tourism. “Again not many people know it, but Germany is very green country, with large forests spread throughout covering over 30 pc of our total land. There are numerous natural wonders and attractions as well as National Parks that we want the Indian tourists to visit and experience,” Theophilus told India Outbound.
Both the themes of nature as well as local culture is enmeshed in the central focus of Germany Tourism – sustainable tourism. “We are keen to proactively promote sustainable tourism and hence encourage travellers to use public transport and go in for longer stays in whichever country they choose to visit, at least 8-9 nights, to minimise their carbon footprint of flying in from India. We are also proactively making all our events sustainable, ranging from the largest business and cultural events right down to this press conference. Every single item here is made from recyclable material,” Theophilus said.
Besides all its attractions, Gemany is also banking on the extremely positive image that it enjoys in India. According to various surveys Germany tops the list of best travel destinations in Europe for Indian travellers for its scope, culture and attraction. As per the Nation Brands Index, Anholt Ipsos Nation Brands Index SM 2021, Germany ranked No. 1 on the Nation Brands Index for the fifth time in a row.
Theophilus told the press meet that Germany accounted for 9 pc of European trips of Indians. Of the mix of Indian travellers, 55 pc visit Germany for leisure while 38 pc travel for business. One of the main attractions is the extremely good connectivity as there are 44 flights between India and Germany every week, the highest in Europe. Germany also enjoys highest direct connectivity between various cities in India. “Eight hours gate-to-gate and with multiple daily flight routes from India to cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Germany has long been favoured by the Indian traveller. An increase in travellers is expected this festive period in light of the relaxation of Covid-19 requirements. All travellers can now visit regardless of vaccination status and without the need for a negative test,” says Theophilus.
However, Germany, like almost all European and North American destinations is facing two major challenges currently and more so in India – extremely long processing time for visas as well as limited air connectivity, with very high airfares.
Theophilus expressed hope that the visa situation would return to normal very soon. “Our embassy is working very hard to restore the normal time taken for issuing visas in India and I am confident that it would be addressed rapidly. In the meanwhile, I am asking all travellers and travel agents to plan at least two months ahead to ensure there are no last-minute complications due to visas,” Theophilus said.
“The visa problem could have cost us about 50-60 pc in terms of tourist traffic from India,” Theophilus told India Outbound. “I can say very clearly that though the prices are high, I am not getting the feedback on Indians seeking lower prices or negotiating hard as the travellers’ preferences seem to have changed and people are now seeking better experiences and often travel on their own, instead of being in a group,” Theophilus said, responding to another query by India Outbound on whether the Indian market was still as price sensitive as it was said to be.