Assessment of the current situation in inbound tourism and a look ahead to the future of travel to Germany
The travel industry has been under extreme pressure since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In your expert opinion, 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. Travel patterns will take some time to recover, even if the introduction of vaccines is successful, and airline and hotel capacity needs to be gradually rebuilt.
What’s more, there are bound to be setbacks along the way on the road to recovery. We experienced a significant drop in cases of infection this summer, only to see an equally dramatic surge in autumn that is now affecting many European countries. I think we need to prepare ourselves for a long process of recovery.
根据市场研究机构 Tourism Economics 的最新分析，旅游业的复甦期可能长达数年至2023 年底。机构预测欧洲旅客数字的回升速度将比海外旅客较为显著，休闲旅游的恢复期亦会较商务旅游短。
To be more precise, 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.
What gives you cause for optimism in these difficult times?
There are a number of good reasons to be optimistic. The most important one is that millions of people are looking forward to worry-free travel again, to discovering other countries and experiencing other cultures, to going on successful business trips and to sharing their experiences with others.
市场研究机构 IPK International 的调查指出，受疫情及各地封关所限，许多国家和地区的民众出国旅行的意欲大增。德国形象正面，经常在旅游目的地的激烈竞争中脱颖而出。德国在 2020 年度 Anholt-Ipsos 全球国家品牌指数(NBI)再次排行榜首。机构于 2020 年 7 月7 日至 8 月 31 日，即疫情大流行期间，以问卷形式访问了来自全球 20 个国家和地区的受访者，综合结果得出评分。
Studies by market research institute IPK International also show that the willingness to travel abroad has already increased significantly in many countries over the course of this year. Then there are reasons that make Germany stand out as a travel destination.The 2020 Anholt Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI), for example, has once again confirmed Germany’s excellent image with a no. 1 ranking. It should be noted that the survey of 20 countries was conducted between 7 July and 31 August, i.e. in the midst of the pandemic.
在旅游目的地的选择上，安全性是一个非常重要的决定因素。国际调查显示，就新冠病毒感染风险方面，德国被认为是全球最安全的旅游目的地。而 6 月至 9 月进行的实地研究则进一步认证此观点。
And safety is an important factor in the choice of travel destination. International surveys have shown that Germany is considered the safest travel destination worldwide when it comes to the risk of coronavirus infection. The field studies conducted from June to September show that this opinion has become even more established.
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.
Will the coronavirus pandemic lead to new trends among travellers that might affect Germany as a travel destination?
旅游模式其实一直在转变，疫情存在与否的实际影响不大，但今次疫症的确加快了某些改变。新冠疫情令更多人开始关注可持续发展模式，约有八成来自德国入境旅游之重要客源国的旅客认为疫情会推动旅游业的可持续性。IPK International 的最新 COVID-19 调查指出，五成半受访者表示倾向选择以大自然为主题的度假活动，另外更有 21%受访者表示因应疫情，他们更有可能踏上探索自然的旅途。
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.
Is Germany prepared for this change in demand?
诚然，可持续旅游是德国国家旅游局的推广重点之一。SDG 指数纪录了联合国各成员国或地区之可持续发展目标(SDGs)的达成进度，在刚刚公布的 SDG 指数中，德国于 166 个国家和地区的排名中位列第五。而 NBI 的受访者亦将德国列为”未来五年内最有效应对气候转变威胁”的国家。
Absolutely. Sustainability is a key concern for us. In the recently published SDG Index, which documents the progress made by individual countries in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Germany ranks fifth out of 166 countries. And the respondents in the NBI are most likely to name Germany as the country that will handle the threat of climate change most effectively over the next five years.
德国的自然环境一直备受推崇，为了保育生态环境，我们进行了许多治理工作。德国 1/3面积土地属受保护地带，德国目前拥有 16 个国家公园、16 个联合国教科文组织生物圈保护区、以及 104 个自然公园。
Germany’s environment is in good health, and a lot is being done to keep it that way. With 16 national parks, 16 UNESCO biosphere reserves and 104 nature parks, around a third of Germany’s land area enjoys special protection status.
Is this reflected in Germany’s tourism offering? What types of sustainable holiday in Germany would you particularly recommend?
The UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and the Loreley, Germany’s Ancient Beech Forests and the Wadden Sea on the North Sea coast, are a particular draw for tourists.
德国拥有 20 万公里长的登山步道网络，步道的难度不一，不论是亲子出游的家庭旅客、热爱探索古代遗迹的文化爱好者，抑或享受攀登高峰的登山客，都能够在德国的登山步道找到乐趣。此外，有些路线还提供不同的旅游方案如树顶漫步、导赏团等，为旅客提供精彩体验。健走散步过后，旅客更可品尝由地道食材制作的地区特色料理。
Germany’s network of around 200,000 kilometres of well-signposted hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty offers something for everyone, from families with children, to culture lovers who like exploring historical sites and energetic hikers conquering the mountain peaks. Added to the mix are health-promoting walks, regional food and drink, and tourist highlights such as treetop walks and park ranger experiences.
而在 7 万公里长的骑行路线上，越野单车手、公路单车手、以至享受休闲单车游的旅客都能够按照自己步伐探索德国。无论是独自出游、与家人或朋友同行、甚至是与车友会同好者骑行上路，德国的基建设施和旅客服务定必能够满足客人所求。
Mountain bikers, racing cyclists, and those who enjoy a leisurely ride can explore Germany on more than 70,000 kilometres of long-distance cycle routes. Whether cycling alone, with a club, as a family or socially with friends – Germany has the infrastructure and services to meet every need.
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.
So, demand for holidays in the heart of nature is rising, but are there segments that will decline as a result of coronavirus?
Generally, the segments in which Germany is particularly strong are also the ones hit hardest.
德国是欧洲游客的文化与城市旅游胜地首选，因应疫情，2020 年有众多大型公众活动相继取消，或只能有限度开放，例如啤酒节和德国各地的圣诞市集，我们期望这些活动可以在2021 年再次如期举行。有赖各城镇、文化机构和娱乐场所的支持，在疫情肆虐下，德国仍旧能够提供安全的环境及难忘的节日体验。
For example, Germany is the number one cultural and city break destination for European holidaymakers, but many of the large events that dominate this segment could not take place, or only to a very limited extent, in 2020. We hope that events such as the Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets will be able to take place on the usual scale in 2021. And towns, cities, cultural institutions and entertainment venues have done a great deal to facilitate safe and memorable holidays despite coronavirus.
What does a city-break during the pandemic look like?
Cities that are attractive to tourists are often surrounded by an equally attractive region. Berlin, for example, has the Spree Forest and the March of Brandenburg, Frankfurt has the Taunus and the Rheingau, while Hamburg and Bremen are close to the North Sea coast. From the surrounding regions, there are easy, convenient and eco-friendly options to visit the cities for a day to go sightseeing and shopping. The towns and cities also offer many ways to while away the hours in parks, green spaces and beer gardens, or on and beside rivers and lakes.
欧洲旅游委员会(European Travel Commission)最近的研究显示，享受城市生活的民众表现出对旅游的强烈渴求。德国城市生活的表现不单局限于历史建筑和博物馆，更是一种生活态度与方式。
Recent research by the European Travel Commission has shown that people who enjoy city life are the most eager to travel again. City life in Germany is about more than historical buildings and museums. It’s about a lifestyle and a way of living.
Germany is a major destination for trade fairs and conferences. What about business travel?
商务旅游在可见的将来会面临严峻考验。2019 年，商务旅游在德国入境旅游的所占的比例高达 23%，高于国际平均水平。德国除了是全球首屈一指的会展王国，亦是欧洲最重要的会议场地之一。
This segment will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future. In 2019, the proportion of all inbound travel to Germany accounted for by business travel was above the international average, at 23 per cent. Not only because we are the world’s leading trade fair nation but also because we are the top conference destination in Europe.
We expect significant changes in these areas, in particular. Alternatives such as virtual event formats and hybrid events are likely to grow in significance in the future.
Which countries do you expect to return to normal the soonest?
I don’t believe that things will return to how they were. Even if we can travel again without restrictions, our travel experience will be shaped by greater caution.
Overall, I think neighbouring markets will recover more quickly than overseas ones. In the case of overseas markets, the airlines will only ramp up their capacity again if they see that there is sufficient demand. For commercial and environmental reasons, there will be an even greater focus on high levels of capacity utilisation in the future.
We have also seen that many travellers have a very clear idea of the conditions under which they would consider travelling again. Key factors include a significant drop in the rate of infections in the destination country, the availability of a vaccine and travel that is unhindered by quarantine regulations.
当感染率逐渐下降，各国陆续展开疫苗接种计划，我们期望国际旅游的需求最快于 2021 年能显著恢复。
In light of falling infection rates and the start of vaccination programmes, we hope to see a significant recovery of international demand as early as 2021.
一如德国国家旅游局的推广口号”Destination Germany – Simply Inspiring”，我们将安然度过这段艰难时期。
Our brand ‘Destination Germany – Simply Inspiring’ will continue to carry us through this difficult time.