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Moderate growth at a high level: that’s a short summary of Cologne’s successful tourism year 2018. After very positive growth in 2017 and a weaker trade fair year due to the trade fair cycles, there were 3.7 million arrivals and 6.29 million overnight stays in Cologne in 2018.

In total, the arrivals increased by 3 percent and the registered overnight stays in hotels rose by 0.7 percent. The Cologne meeting market in particular posted significant increases in 2018, both in terms of the number of events (52,727, +6.5 percent) and the number of participants (4.3 million, +8.5 percent). According to a study published last year, the turnover generated in Cologne by the convention business alone amounted to 720.1 million Euro.

According to estimates made by the Cologne Tourist Board on the basis of current statistical data, the gross annual turnover generated by tourism amounted to 6.7 billion Euro.

Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the Cologne Tourist Board, said, “Business and private trips to Cologne generate massive turnover in a broad spectrum of our city’s business sectors. This demonstrates once again that tourism is making a major contribution to the development of Cologne as a business destination. Our focus is on facilitating smooth interaction between guests and locals. That is our mission.”

Stable volume markets — China is a dynamic potential market

There were few noteworthy changes regarding Cologne’s most important source markets. The strong volume markets are experiencing continued stable growth. German guests continued to represent the largest number of overnight stays (4.13 million, +1.2 per cent compared to the previous year). In second place were guests from the UK, Cologne’s most important source market abroad, which grew impressively by 11.7 percent (242,651 overnight stays). The other countries in the Top 5 were the USA (201,156, -0.1 percent), the Netherlands (179,115, +4.5 percent) and Belgium (104,187, +5.7 percent).

The Chinese market represents huge potential for Cologne. From a long-term perspective covering the last ten years, overnight stays by Chinese visitors increased by 163 per cent to 98,206. The number of overnight stays by Russian guests decreased by comparison with the previous year, in which the Ice Hockey World Cup was held in Cologne (52,819, -12.2 per cent). However, compared to 2016, when Russian guests accounted for 39,840 overnight stays, this market basically shows a positive development.

Cologne’s good overall performance in the markets is in line with the positive trend in Germany as a whole. “We’re especially happy about the growing number of visitors from Germany in 2018, because for some time now we’ve been appealing specifically to German urban tourists with our #urbanana and #urbanCGN projects, which focus on Cologne’s strong creative community”, said Stephanie Kleine Klausing, Deputy CEO of the Cologne Tourist Board. “It’s clear that tourism and the creative scene are growing together, business and leisure events cannot always be sharply separated, and the needs of our guests, local people and temporary citizens are becoming more alike. This is the framework within which we want to shape top-quality and sustainable tourism for Cologne.”

Events in 2019: Offenbach and more features for Culinary Cologne

In 2019 Cologne is celebrating the 200th birthday of Jacques Offenbach. In line with the motto “Yes, We CanCan”, 125 events held at more than 50 venues will be honoring the inventor of the modern operetta. The highlight of the celebrations will be a three-week-long festival in June.

Almost 200 events have been planned for the Lanxess Arena in 2019, including the very successful Handball World Cup and numerous concerts by artists including the Eagles, Cher and Mark Knopfler. The RheinEnergie stadium will feature artists including Metallica, Phil Collins and Pink.

Cologne’s museums will stage a number of special exhibitions to celebrate major anniversaries during the International Year of Culture 2019. These exhibitions will include “2 of 14: Two Cologne-born Artists at the Bauhaus” (April 12 – August 11, 2019, Museum of Applied Arts Cologne) and “Inside Rembrandt · 1606-1669” (November 1, 2019 – March 1, 2020, Wallraf Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud).

The Cologne Tourist Board will continue its Culinary Cologne program in 2019. The highlights will include an English-language Food Guide for Cologne, created and published by the Stadtrevue Verlag, and video clips produced in cooperation with the Rewe supermarket chain to highlight regional cuisine. The Cologne Tourist Board is also a supporter of the Fine Food Days, which will celebrate their premiere from August 31 to September 9, 2019.

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