Berlin targets Gulf tourists with medical services and late shopping

The city’s famous Reichstag

Despite only one direct connection, the German capital is drawing increased visitor numbers from the Middle East, according to a spokesperson at Berlin Tourismus Marketing (BTM).

“Numbers from the Middle East are getting better and better. We’ve just returned from a roadshow to Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and by repeating this exercise year on year, we will be able to bring in significant numbers,” Ralf Ostendorf, BTM director of sales, told TTN.
Berlin’s hotels counted 40,919 over-night stays from GCC citizens in 2006, 9.4 per cent up over the previous year. The city counts just under six million total foreign overnight stays each year.
“We’re hoping for a direct flight with Emirates, which will make all the difference, like the Doha-Berlin conne-ction with Qatar Airways did,” he said. To that end, Berlin’s airports body is actively canvassing regional airlines to launch routes to the city.
Among the new markets the BTM  wants to tap is Saudi Arabia, which it hopes will be a good source market for FIT travellers.
“Berlin has some of the best hotels in Germany, as well as the best doctors and quality medical facilities for health tourists. It is also at the forefront of art and culture in Europe and the late shopping will find favour with Middle Eastern tourists,” he said. The BTM has also launched a new Arabic city guide to make travelling around Berlin easier.
For agents looking at tips on selling Berlin, Ostendorf suggested bookings in August: “Occupancy isn’t too high at that time, and the temperatures are perfect, not too hot and not too cold.”
Heike Murad, manager, GCC States pointed out that agents could sell Berlin as an add-on to Hamburg. “There are excellent train connections between the two cities, and the trip is just two and a half hours. By road it’s three hours, and  both ways offer the opportunity to see more of Germany.”
TTN took a day trip between the two cities – in first class! – recently, and found that Deutsche Bahn offers a quality ride with a minimum of stops and more than adequate in-train service. Add-ons include facilities for the disabled, left luggage lockers at the stations, changing tables for babies, daytime parking, smoking and non-smoking areas.