Typical German Tourist
Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
209Trip End Ongoing
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We after two weeks of learning about Hotel Management and Tourism in Germany I can say that I am glad that it is done. Sitting down every day for 6 hours and learning, especially in German, is pretty damn hard. Sure I learnt a lot, plus I put a few new words into my vocabulary, but I'm still going to have to put in some hard work next week if I want to pass the exam.
Germany is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Europe. Having said that Germans spend more money overseas than the combined tourists in Germany! Germans are pretty big travellers and travel not only within Germany, but Europe and the world. The biggest destinations in Germany are Berlin, Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Berlin itself is one of the most affordable capital cities in Europe and the 3rd most popular after London and Paris.
It was quite interesting to learn a bit about the history of tourism as well. Germans started travelling since the invention of the train made it easier to get around. Thomas Cook was the Englishmen who got the idea of a package deal first organised and his 1851 organised tour to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was a huge success. In 1855 he even organised his first round trip in Europe and stopped in at Heidelberg and Straßburg as part of the cruise along the Rhine before circling back to Paris.
Of course Germans travel by car or by plane, which has radically changed since the 1950s when most people travelled by train. Back then Austria and Italy were big travel destinations and Germans liked trying the exotic foods like pizza and pasta or eating broccoli and zucchini! It's hard to imagine that these types of foods were once foreign because we have a very international selection of restaurants these days.
There aren't many big chain hotels in Germany. Most of the hotels are small and privately owned, which is a big difference to the USA and Canada, where they are mostly chains. The reason being is that it can be hard to get space in the inner city to place a new hotel or redevelop an existing hotel and there are a lot of small guesthouses out in the country that don't have enough traffic to justify such a large investment. In spite of this the guesthouses are under pressure to survive and there are a number of associations and groups that help smaller hotels and guesthouses get a bigger presence.
There are around 620,000 Tourists that come and visit Heidelberg each year, which is quite a lot for a city of around 150,000 inhabitants. Half of the visitors are Germans, but there are a good quantity of Americans (45,000), French (12,000), Swiss (20,000), English (18,000), Japanese (12,000) and Chinese (14,000) that come and visit as well. They can tell how many people come and visit because every hotel has to report the number of arrivals and overnight stays they receive.
One of the biggest travel destinations for Germans outside Germany is Majorca as well as Spain in general. Majorca along with Minorca and Ibiza get up to 10 Million tourists each year and almost half of them are German, but its also popular with Spanish and English tourists looking to party. 80% of the GDP comes from tourism and its boomed so big so quickly that the island's resources are being stretched beyond capacity. With so many people on such a small island, the hotels and golf courses struggle to find enough freshwater and the surrounding waters are becoming filled with waste.
There are a number of different travel types in Germany and businesses try and specialise to capture the various hotel guest types. They include bicycle touring, camping, hiking touring and even treatment centres. These 'Kurorte' are towns, which have a specific type of treatment available to people for rehabilitation and comprise of around half of the overnight stays in Germany! That is because the typical duration for a treatment is around 3 weeks. Towns with the word 'Bad' (bath) in the name like Baden Baden, Bad Dürkheim or Bad Shönborn have to apply for special classifications in order to be recognised as a treatment centre.
Germany has a hotel classification system based on stars. It ranges from one star to five stars, but it isn't mandatory to be classified. Those hotels who want to be classified have to pay a fee and then pass some strict classifications depending on what star rating they want to offer. It is quite interesting just how the different star criteria are awarded and what the hotels have to offer for each rank. For example a five star hotel has to have a multilingual reception staff which is open 24 hours, ironing service within the hour, bell boy and valet, personalised gift in the room and full menu room service 24 hours a day! But even one star hotels don't get off easy. They have to have a shower, daily cleaning, colour TV, table and chair, but no room telephone.
Guesthouses and Bed and Breakfasts even have their own star system called the G-Klassifizierung, but they have different requirements and there aren't any 5 G-stars in Germany.
With such a large emphasis on travel in Germany and in Europe, it will be interesting how the industry develops in the future. Peak Oil is definitely going to be a deciding factor on where people go for holidays as travel will become more expensive. Many of the natural wonders are being like coral reefs in the Maldives and Thailand are being destroyed through tourism and human waste and guests are becoming more and more demanding. They aren't willing to spend more money, but want more services. Competition with other hotels and environmental concerns are other factors which will also have a big part to play in the future.
Now I just have to regurgitate all this information in German!