“DUBAI is a wow market for us,” exclaimed Ralf Zednik, deputy director of sales at the City of Munich’s tourist office, when I introduce myself.
“The Arabian Gulf is the strongest upcoming market for us. Ten years ago, it ranked nine or ten, now it’s our fifth most important source market.”
With Lufthansa, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all flying into the city from the GCC, Munich accounts for 30 per cent of all overnights from the Gulf in Germany, a total of 190,000 annually.
“From luxury accommodation and high-end shopping to a very high standard of security, something which is very important to GCC travellers, Munich has it all – as well as some very friendly people that welcome Arabs. It’s this combination that we offer that accounts for our success,” he said.
The city is one of the few German markets that aggressively cater to Arab clients, whether in terms of actively considering their preferences while planning hospitality projects, or in marketing terms. Besides offering long-stay luxury apartments, Munich has a regional marketing representative in Dubai and offers Arabic language brochures.
“Arabs are interested in some bits of culture and history, especially the castles and the Nazi history, but mostly they want to go shopping, or take advantage of our excellent medical treatment,” he said. “They’re not very keen on art and classical music.”
His recommendation, then, to destinations looking at the big-spending Arab market, is to offer what the market wants. “Arabic food is a good place to start. It is also a big help for a destination to offer traditional facilities.”
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