Director – Marketing and Sales, German National Tourist Office (India)
Germany is the second largest visitor market in Europe. Despite European economic challenges, the influx of German visitors remained relatively consistent. In the interview, Romit Theophilus shares the different modes of marketing in German tourism to achieve the target of 1.5 million Indian tourists by 2020.
Q : What kind of growth has Germany witnessed as a tourism destination in India? How has the year 2014 been in terms of business?
We have been very lucky with Germany. We have accomplished 615,000 overnights last year, which is a five per cent increase from 2012. Every year, we have been increasing nearly between five to 20 per cent. Unfortunately, last year was little slow due to whole Euro-rupee situation, where Euro grew by 40 per cent. But keep it in mind that Germany still finished strongly with five per cent growth despite the devaluation of rupee and the economic scenario. We are optimistic for this year and expect the growth rate to be back in double digits. Having said this, in the last two years, Germany has been one of the leading destinations for Indian tourists travelling to Europe. We are probably only after Great Britain when it comes to one overnight visit. We have also seen average spending of tourists starting from 2,400 Euros per trip that they do and mostly, they do trips of ranging from 3-7 days.
Q : Since how long, you have been promoting Germany in India?
Our office started in 2006; so today, we have been present in the market for the last eight years.
Q : How has 2014 been for German National Tourist Office?
2014 so far has been good. We have grown about 10 per cent in the first five months. We expect to close this year with the growth of eight to 12 per cent. India is among the top 20 source markets for Germany, in terms of overseas arrival.
Q : How is the connectivity between India and Germany? Are there any plans to expand the network?
We have been very lucky because of Lufthansa, we have 46 weekly flights. With Air India, we have another 7- 14 weekly flights that are direct. Then, coming to Gulf carriers, we have as many flights as they have going into Germany. So, we are lucky to be well-connected.
Q : How important is Indian market for Germany?
Honestly, it is very important. India is one of the future source markets. We are expecting 1.5 million overnights by 2020. Overall, this is the target as of now. India will rank in the top five source markets in the coming years for Germany.
Q : What initiatives have been taken to achieve the target?
We have done a lot. Over the last few years, we have been focussing on B2B strategy. We are communicating with travel trade; educating them what Germany has to offer. We have mainly conducted this exercise in almost all metro cities and about 20 non-metro cities as well. So, we have been doing this quite consistently. Apart from that, we have consumer-friendly website. We have conducted many joint campaigns with tour operators. We have other advertisement mediums – through social mediums, bill-board exercise etc.
Q : Any plans in the MICE category?
We actually do a lot in the MICE category. We visit corporates, we communicate with tour operators and airlines to showcase the destinations. And due to this, Germany is growing as a favourite MICE destination. We have incentives movements anywhere from 50 to 2000 to 10,000 people. So, Germany is quite good at MICE.
Q : What are the segments you are focussing on?
We are focussing on leisure, MICE, business and trade fair. These are the four main segments that we do. But at times, we need to promote romantic side of Germany, for which we focus on honeymoon sector.
Q : What initiatives can be taken to attract Indian tourists to Germany through shooting of Indian films there?
Don 2 was shot in Berlin. That was the first initiative taken by Germany to showcase Germany in the film. It was a huge success. We are also in touch with many production houses. We are trying to make Germany an attractive destination for shooting movies. But as many countries are pitching; so there is enough competition.
Q : Do you think that the emerging trends in visitor motivations and behaviour are changing?
Lot of people are surprised to see what all Germany can offer because they think that Germany is all about business. But once they reach Germany, they realise that they are wrong. They can find Indian food anywhere in Germany without any problem. Most of the people speak English, so language is not a barrier. They realise that Germany is not only about big buildings, but 75 per cent of the country is beautiful landscapes, lakes, meadows and things like that. Germany is gateway to Alps as well. They think France and Switzerland can only be gateways for Alps. But they realise that they are wrong. Their eyes get open when they come to Germany, mainly leisure clients. They get satisfied, once they visit Germany.
Q : How has been the visa procedure?
We are the only country which has 26 visa facilitation centres, i.e., VFS. The visa procedure is not as difficult as people think it is. It can take you 3-5 days to get visa.
Q : What is the target for 2015?
As I said, for 2014, we are expecting eight to 12 per cent growth. So for 2015, we expect a further 10-15 per cent growth.