“Coming off the worst year in tourism history, there’s little sense of optimism in the travel industry and expecting a return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.” Said Romit Theophilus, Director for India, The German National Tourist Office.
Q. Tell us about the Tourism Sustainability Strategies and Trends in the Germany.
Important goal of the GNTB is to strengthen Germany's position as a sustainable travel destination in international competition. With the start of our new global campaign "Embrace German Nature", GNTO, India along with the German National Tourist Board draws the interest of potential vacationers to Germany to the natural landscapes and sustainable vacation experiences in the rural regions. According to IPK International, Germany is currently in second place as a nature travel destination when Europeans travel around the world. We want to further strengthen these positions.
'Embrace German Nature' presents unmistakable landscapes to inspire nature-loving people with an affinity for leisure for Germany as a travel destination. The focus is on the authentic, individual experience of the scenic highlights and the discovery of previously little-known regions. The central elements of the campaign are the campaign film and as a new digital tool, videos in 8D sound design.
Even during the pandemic, Germany remained the most popular travel destination for Indians. For the comeback of international tourism, well-known strengths and enticing experiences are the focus of attention.
Q. What are your expectations for the current year from India?
This has been a great news for all travellers and the industry, especially before the peak summer season. The demand for international travel (Germany)is picking up in India and there has been a significant uptick in travel search queries for destinations like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich. Travel search queries from India for German cities like Baden Baden/ Stuttgart/Munich/Berlin Black forest and the Rhine region have seen a major jump. We are seeing a trend of travellers now eager to book long-haul destinations, fuelled by international borders reopening and relaxation of rules across the globe. Coming off the worst year in tourism history, there’s little sense of optimism in the travel industry and expecting a return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
Q. What does Tourism in Germany do to promote off-the-beaten track destinations to Indian travellers?
During the past two years of the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly with our partners in Germany’s inbound tourism industry and the Indian travel trade to prepare for a successful restart. Activities include the virtual empathy campaigns for end customers during the lockdowns, but also the investments in digital transformation, the positioning of Germany as a sustainable destination in the Indian market, and the ongoing exchange of knowledge with the travel industry, for example through market insight webinars, Germany Travel Mart 2022, speed networking and many other initiatives.
In Europe, Germany is the most preferred destination for incentives, amongst the cities, Munich and Berlin continue to be amongst the top favourites, with these cities becoming very popular for MICE visits. Germany is now being included in itineraries for a longer duration. While earlier most itineraries included only a drive through in Germany, now many over a minimum of 2 overnights. The most popular region still - continue to be Bavaria, The Southwest of Germany and Frankfurt and neighbouring regions.
Q. What is the average length of stay recommended for the first time traveller from India to Germany and what range of experiences can one expect during their stay?
The current strength for us still remain Trade Fairs and Multi Country group travel (8-10 Countries in 12-15 Days). Expenditure on Accommodation, Food and Dining would be important parameters while deciding on a destination. In Europe, Germany is the most preferred destination for incentives, amongst the cities, Munich and Berlin continue to be amongst the top favourites, with these cities becoming very popular for MICE visits. Germany is now being included in itineraries for a longer duration. While earlier most itineraries included only a drive through in Germany, now many over a minimum of 2 overnights. The most popular region still continue to be Bavaria, The Southwest of Germany and Frankfurt and neighbouring regions.
Q. Please shed some light on connectivity.
Germany's flag carrier and the country's largest airline Lufthansa Group, at present, operates 22 weekly flights on Swiss and LH between Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich, and Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Full-service carrier Vistara launched non-stop flights between Delhi and Frankfurt.
Q. Comment on vaccination and quarantine rules in Germany for Indians.
Until Sept. 30, 2022, two vaccinations are sufficient for entry into Germany. It does not matter when applicants were last vaccinated. Even a single vaccination is sufficient if one of the following applies:
a) an antibody test with proven infection with coronaviruses prior to vaccination, followed by administration of the vaccination; or
b) a positive test by a nucleic acid test (e.g., PCR) before the vaccine dose; or
c) a positive test by a nucleic acid test (e.g., PCR) performed at least 28 days ago and after administration of the first vaccine dose;
From 01.10.2022, the same will apply, but with three compulsory vaccinations - two vaccinations will therefore only be sufficient if an additional above-mentioned test is provided.
Currently, only applicants with an urgent travel reason can enter Germany if they have taken Covaxin. A negative RT-PCR test is not sufficient in this case. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you when this regulation might be lifted.
Q. Say something about Visa process for Indian traveller.
At the moment travel in India is seeing pre pandemic inquiries, after speaking with the German Embassy visa sections in New Delhi and Mumbai we were told demand is very high for people wanting to visit Germany (Leisure, Business, trade fairs and Incentives). So much so that the process for applying for the visa can take upto one or two months in some cases and even after submitting your documents it will further take two weeks for the visa to be issued.
Q. Any recommendation for Indian travellers
Germany has a longstanding tradition of being one of the most popular destinations. But what makes Germany a unique destination, is world famous "Gemütlichkeit", great connectivity, proximity to nature, cosmopolitan outlook and traditions for hospitality and foremost the country’s excellent infrastructure. Many of our cities in Germany has recently shared exciting news about the city's new hotel, venue openings as well as great events awaiting visitors in 2022 and beyond.