Germany eyes Gulf tourists
This represents an increase of 1.2 million visitors over the same period of the previous year.
German National Tourism Board shared key figures in a press conference held recently in Dubai and announced that the theme of 2018 will be culinary travel, even as Oktoberfest, one of the world’s top five beverage festivals, ends in Munich this month.
In 2016, Germany enjoyed record visitor arrivals for the seventh consecutive year, with more than 80 million overnight stays by international visitors.
Gulf countries are considered one of the top 20 source markets for Germany and the third largest non-European source market, after China and USA. Going by numbers in the first six months of 2017, 552,395 overnight stays were registered from GCC visitors alone. Considering that the summer months receive bulk of the touring traffic, this number may well rise above one million for 2017. This comes as no surprise with 212 direct flights weekly from the region.
An interesting finding is that 53 per cent of visitors to the country visit either Bavaria, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg. So, TTN fell in this category of visitor when we were treated to an Emirates return flight on business class to Munich.
Emirates has set itself a high standard that is hard to match when you fly A380 in business class. The timings to and back from Munich are sobering, ensuring travellers have the best part of the day ahead of them. The perfectly arranged chauffer service to and from the airport, crowd-free check-in zones marked for business and first-class passengers only and exclusive lounge access add the proverbial cherry to a journey even before take-off.
Mid-air, you feel that extra bit of pampering as piping hot gourmet meals made to order are served even as you fiddle around the iPad provided for personalised content viewing, or service yourself from the personal mini-bar. Or make the best use of the large led screen in front immersing into the great collection of entertainment, enjoying the cosy comfort of privileged travel specially when the seat transforms into a fully flat bed. The on-board bar section is another big draw and no matter how often you find yourself there, you keep forgetting that that it’s not a downtown club lounge somewhere in the city, where you are enjoying a drink and chat.
Break out of the clouds and Munich digs deep with its first impression – swathes of green to colour your imagination as you greet your destination for the first time even while the big bird prepares for touchdown in Terminal 1. Munich Airport’s Terminal 2 is a short hop, skip and jump away and is worth your while if you find your party thirsty or peckish. At the 2017 World Airports Award, Munich Airport›s Terminal 2 was honoured as the world›s number one terminal by the London-based Skytrax Institute. The rankings are based on a survey of 14 million passengers around the world. Terminal 2, which opened in 2003, is undergoing an expansion project and is the Munich home base of Lufthansa, its partner airlines, and the Star Alliance.
A quick transfer gives you the reassuring taste of German efficiency, and soon after you are marvelling at the spires in town, soaking in quintessential Munich in Marienplatz, the city’s most popular square. Typical of the country, Munich’s rail network both on-ground and under, are extremely well networked and getting around Bavaria is easy, day trips to Augsburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg and many other gems of smaller cities present the ideal setting for immersion into natural and historical gems.
A highlight of Munich’s itinerary is Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, among Germany›s most popular tourist attractions a visit requires pre-plan, best to reserve tickets in advance and lock the time of visit. Travel counsellors will do well to on-board guests without having to queue at the ticket counter.
The Bayerischer Hof on Promenadeplatz in the heart of Munich is possibly the very definition of luxury and class. The five-star property was commissioned by King Ludwig I as he desired for a lavish abode for guests back in 1839. Bayerischer Hof must be one a global icon of the hospitality industry, not only does it pampered heads of states, celebrities, royalty and lucky guests for over 150 years, it offers within its exquisite confines, myriad tastes of opulent indulgence that cannot be talked about enough, only experienced.
Take the top floor pool, for example, that provides a magnificent view of the city’s famous spires and landmarks, the staggering array of private suites well-appointed to meet the needs of guests, no matter what the group size or occasion is. The mesmerising mall that has been inspiring patrons for over a century, the theatre where dreams have been etched since the start of cinema. A city within a city, a royal accommodation in the most authentic sense is what Bayerischer Hof offers to guests from the Middle East and beyond, ensuring all their preferences and requirements are met with regal efficiency.
A Bavarian adventure cannot be complete without a serving of the Austrian city of Salzburg on the side. The city of the Hollywood classic Sound of Music plays host to many Oktoberfest visitors when Munich’s hotels heave with visitors. For lovers of classical music, this is the birthplace of Mozart and the city reminds visitors of their golden son every way. There are music festivals, daily concerts and shows to immerse in of course, but then, there’s also the exciting café scene to dip into. Take the Furst Café for example in the central city square, where Paul Furst prepared the original Salzburger Mozartkugel, and Mozart has always sounded sweeter since.
The Salzburg card is a smart way to get around the city and have complimentary access to almost everything that must be seen. For $29 you have the city at your fingertips for a day, walk into a dozen odd museums and historical sites including the iconic Hohensalzburg Fortress, toy museum, Salzburg zoo and even into Mozart’s home. Among the best outdoor uses of the car, the cable car ride at Untesburg which gives access to breath-taking views of the valley from the perch atop the mountain, must be high on the list of to-dos.There are two bywords that every travel planner should consider and plan around. One, McArthurGlen, the shopper’s paradise near the airport, and two, Zell am See, the sleepy lakeside Alpine retreat that feels like home away from home, such has been its rising fame and hospitality offerings, halal being the flavour of town. Away from the crowd, the quaint outpost comes with all the ingredients of paradise, boating on a mountain lake, walks in the woods, picturesque waterfalls, and fun activities on snow-capped slopes.