2011: Cologne sets new tourism record

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COLOGNE, Germany – Tourism to Cologne continued to increase in 2011, achieving a new record by beating the previous record from 2010.

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COLOGNE, Germany – Tourism to Cologne continued to increase in 2011, achieving a new record by beating the previous record from 2010. Last year, a total of 2.84 million hotel guests came to Cologne and altogether spent 4.97 million overnight stays. Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of 9.7 percent in terms of guest arrivals and 8.6 percent in terms of overnight stays. In comparison, Germany had an overall increase in overnight stays of 4 percent and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia had an increase of 5 percent.

Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Cologne Tourist Board, said: “Once again, Cologne was able to further consolidate its position as one of the most popular destinations in Germany and to achieve significant growth in the most important source markets. The year’s results demonstrate that Cologne Tourist Board’s strategies are bearing fruit. With a total turnover of 6.8 billion euros, tourism represents a major source of income for Cologne and brought the city’s coffers more than 170 million euros in returns.”

Foreign guests made up 874,443 visits and a marked increase of 11 percent, continuing to represent an overall share of 34 percent of visitors to the city. Josef Sommer, Managing Director of Cologne Tourist Board, explained: “Special events such as the Carnival, the Christmas markets, or successful large trade fairs such as imm or Anuga FoodTec, continue to attract more international visitors and business travelers to Cologne. In 2011, the tourist trade in Cologne developed more dynamically than in any other German city. Our goal for 2012 is to surpass 5 million overnight stays.”

2011 source market results
A look at the visitors’ home countries reveals several interesting facts. The trend of vacationing at home remains strong – with 1.97 million visitors (a rise of 9.1 percent), Germany is still the most important source market for Cologne. Most of the foreign visitors in 2011 came from Great Britain (109,488/up by 10.5 percent) and the United States (81,802/up by 24.3 percent). The number of guests arriving from these countries has greatly increased with the more stable economic climate. Cologne also attracted a lot of visitors from its neighboring countries. The number of visitors from the Netherlands rose by 11.4 percent to 92,634, while Belgium (59,823) and France (52,129) increased their share of visitors by 11.5 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. One reason for this is the surging popularity of the high-speed Thalys train connection from Paris and Brussels. The number of guests from Switzerland also rose significantly to 42,625 visitors – an increase of 12.2 percent.

Cologne also boasted a tremendous increase in visitors from Turkey (up by 34.4 percent) and Russia (up by 35.7 percent). The Russian market represents 3.5 percent of international overnight stays – a considerable share for one country. The statistics for tax-free shopping showed that Russian guests spent 22.6 percent more than they did the year before. In Russia, as in the Arab Gulf states (9,962 visitors/up by 24.9 percent), health tourism is a particularly big draw.

The emerging markets of India (5,462 visitors) and China (20,875 visitors) are particularly noteworthy, with a rise of 11.4 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. Since 2006, the Cologne Tourist Board has been actively promoting the city to the Indian market via the India Pool of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), and many years of active market placement in China are now also having an impact. The tourist office’s efforts in Brazil have also proved to be fruitful, resulting in a rise in visitors of 28.7 percent. Compared to 2005, when the Confederations Cup took place in Cologne, the number of visitors from Brazil has actually doubled. The Cologne Tourist Board visited several Brazilian cities as a part of a GNTB road show in 2011 and was able to expand its contacts there considerably – especially in line with the new town twinning of Cologne and Rio de Janeiro.

Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB)
In June 2011, results from the “Cologne Conference Barometer,” which was commissioned by the Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB), were presented for the second time. According to the study, in 2010, Cologne hosted 42,750 events attended by 3.3 million participants. In general, Cologne has become increasingly important for event organizers and is one of Germany’s leading conference destinations. This positive trend is confirmed by the nationwide study, “Meeting & Event Barometer,” which ranks the Cologne-Düsseldorf region as the third most popular location for events after Berlin/Potsdam and the Rhine-Main region surrounding Frankfurt. Potential for future development can be found in the numerous research institutes, universities, and other academic institutions of Cologne, which use events as a common instrument for sharing and exchanging knowledge. That is why CCB intensified its contacts with universities and academic institutions in 2011 and will continue to cultivate these partners in 2012. Together with KölnKongress, CCB aims to attract more academic conferences to the city. One of these is the World Congress of Pathology, which will come to Cologne for the first time in 2016.

In order to compete internationally, CCB works closely together with the convention bureau DÜSSELDORF. The two cities along the Rhine placed successfully in the 2011 state-wide competition, Erlebnis.NRW, with their project “KÖLNDÜSSELDORF — The Meetropolis,” which was extended in 2011 and will implement a new marketing campaign in time for IMEX 2012, will focus on international markets.

Another highlight of the Cologne MICE industry in 2011 was the 10th Cologne Congress and Event Day, which was organized by CCB, KölnKongress, and the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce and attracted 50 exhibitors and 700 trade visitors.


Focus on “Business Destination Cologne”
After last year’s focus on the theme “City of Water,” the Cologne Tourist Board is introducing its 2012 marketing activities under the motto, “Business Destination Cologne,” Inspired by the German National Tourist Board’s motto for this year, “Business Destination Germany,” Cologne Tourist Board – under the leadership of the Cologne Convention Bureau – aims to highlight the city’s activities in the business segment. One marketing measure is the Cologne BizzBox, a portfolio combining six different magazines that showcase various facets of Cologne as a business destination. Similar information will also be gathered and showcased on the website . In addition, shared activities are being planned with the German Convention Bureau, including a joint event for the Austrian meeting industry.

Activities and projects
On the occasion of the 25-year anniversary of the partnership between the cities of Cologne and Beijing, Cologne is celebrating a special China Year in 2012. Featuring a broad program of events, it represents a forum for exchanging new impulses and fostering future cooperation. One highlight will be the “NRW-China Celebration” from September 14-16, 2012, which is being organized by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the city of Cologne. The Cologne Tourist Board is highlighting the 2012 China Year in its marketing activities and also supported the City of Cologne in developing the promotional website .

Since spring 2009, the health pool, “Health Cologne” project, which is led by the Cologne Tourist Board, has been active in the health tourism sector. Once again the project has been able to attract numerous partners from the clinic, hotel, tourism, and high-end retail sectors for 2012. With the help of the Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry, these partners will appeal to customers in the markets of Russia, the Arab Gulf states, the USA, and the UK. Accordingly, the popular brochure, “Health Cologne,” will once again be published in Russian, Arabic, and English this year and will be distributed at all leading trade fairs and road shows in the source markets.

Activities on the German market will be intensified by developing an even closer cooperation with Deutsche Bahn. One instance of this was a multi-page Cologne special in the Deutsche Bahn customer magazine, DB mobil, which was distributed in all trains across Germany at the beginning of the year. More than 20,000 train travelers took part in the accompanying competition to win several trips to Cologne.

In terms of online activities, the website boasts a steady increase in visitors and page views and will be relaunched in 2012 with optimized design, content, and technical features. The online shop, “,” was relaunched at the end of 2011 and is already experiencing a significant increase in turnover. Within the area of mobile Internet activities, the “Köln-Guide” app will soon be released in a bilingual version. And finally, the Cologne Tourist Board has been active on web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As a result, the community of “VisitKoeln” fans and followers has grown steadily since 2010. Further targeted social media campaigns are in the pipeline for 2012.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.