Betwen January and February 2014, Germany has received about 175,000 overnight stays from the GCC countries, which shows an increase of 28 per cent over the same period last year, informs Maria Amaral, manager of the marketing and sales office, gulf countries, German National Tourist Office, local affiliate of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) in the Gulf region.The focus has changed from summer-heavy bookings to heavy traffic from the GCC throughout the year. 'The trend that we've noticed over the past few years is that Middle Eastern tourists like to rent a car and drive around the country. Often they bring their own cars and go on city-hopping trips. Spotting a number plate from the region is quite common, especially during the summer,' says Amaral. The GNTO completed yet another successful participation at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2014, held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 5 to 8, 2014. 'People in the Gulf countries are recognising Germany as a very convenient tourist destination. The response to our exhibit at ATM was overwhelming, with people gushing about their last visit to Germany and how they plan to travel again,' Amaral tells TTN over coffee. The tourist office and its partners, including German regions, cities, hotels, airlines as well as destination management companies, had exhibited a varied number of services and products at the ATM. Amongst these partners were: Frankfurt Airport, Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main, State Tourist Board Baden-WÜrttemberg, Black Forest Highlands, Baden-Baden Tourist Board, Eurotours Deutschland GesellschaftmbH, Kastens Hotel Luisenhof in Hannover, DÜsseldorf Tourist Board, DÜsseldorf Airport, Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Cologne Tourist Board, Hotel Palace Berlin, Wiesbaden Marketing Gmbh and Alpha Travel Consultants.'This year, the focus of our promotions was on families and young Arabs. The geographical location of Germany in the heart of Europe, its well-established foreign relationships, and its sound economy, combined with a rich heritage of history, an amalgamation of several facets of European art, architecture and music, and a bountiful source of untapped natural topography make Germany a very attractive travel destination,' explains Amaral.Germany is home to 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Coexisting with epitomes of an era gone by is a spread of several trend-setting examples of urbanisation, which makes Germany an ideal travel destination. Travellers can choose to go to the 'Maritime City' Hamburg or the 'City of Cars' Stuttgart. Fashion lovers could visit 'City of Fashion' DÜsseldorf and chocolate lovers could indulge themselves in Cologne, the 'City of
Exuberance'. 'Going by statistics we can confidently say that Germany is one of the most preferred travel destinations for travellers from the Gulf region. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, overnight stays by travellers from the GCC totalled 1,543,717 in 2013. This represents an impressive increase of 20.2 per cent compared with the same period of the previous year,' Amaral adds. 'The moderate climate of Germany would serve as a perfect getaway for families and young tourists looking for a respite from the dry, hot desert climate of the Gulf, especially when temperatures begin to soar to unbearable degrees with the onset of summer. Most of the hotels in Germany are prepared to receive hotels from the Gulf region, they have Arabic-speaking staff, serve halal food and bear in mind little details, which go a big way to impress.'