Sunday, 8 June 2014

Nordrhein-Westfalen - The Final Word on German Tourism

Until I started researching for this blog, I'd never heard of Engelbert Kaempfer, the 17th century naturalist from Lippe in Westphalia, who travelled through Russia and Persia, all the way to Japan, arriving in Nagasaki in 1690.  He wrote The History of Japan, one of the most famous accounts of a European journey to that most secretive of nations.

The ubiquitous German Tourist

You know that you've managed to get off the beaten track, when the only other Europeans you encounter are Germans.  When I was blogging about Eritrea, back in September 2012, I came across the work of the UNWTO (the World Tourism organisation).  Every year the UNWTO publishes a report on world tourism and it's fascinating to look at the summaries of their findings.  For the purposes of this blog, I have decided to look at the summaries from 2014 and 2004, to find out how many Germans are travelling and how popular Germany is as a tourist destination.

World Tourism in 2003

Bavarian Alps, a popular tourist destination in Germany
Germany has often topped the UNWTO list as the country which provides the biggest revenues in terms of 'outbound' tourism (ie. Germans travelling as tourists to other countries).  Looking at the report from 2004 (which analyses data from international tourism in 2003), Germany was top of the list with a 12% share of the world's outbound tourism.  US citizens were the second-biggest travellers in 2003, followed by the British and the Japanese.

The top tourist destination in 2003 was - perhaps not surprisingly - France, which frequently tops this list as the most visited country in the world. Germany took 9th place as a tourist destination, just behind Mexico and ahead of Canada.

World Tourism in 2013

The picture has changed quite a bit over the past ten years, with the rise of China and the strength of the Chinese economy.  There were more Chinese tourists travelling the world in 2013, than tourists from any other country (11% of the 'outbound' tourism market). German tourists are now in third place (7.4%) and a little bit behind tourists from the United States.

Interestingly, Japanese tourist numbers have dropped dramatically and Japan doesn't even appear in the top ten list any more, despite the fact that Japanese tourists were the fourth biggest group in 2003.  There has also been a sizeable growth in the number of Russian tourists, who were the tenth largest group in 2003, but are now the world's fourth largest group.

France is the world's most popular tourist destination
France remains the most popular tourist destination in the world, however, Germany has become increasingly popular, going from 9th to 7th place.  Germany now receives more tourists than the UK, but slightly less than Turkey, which has seen an explosion in tourist numbers during that 10 year period.

The next ten years in Tourism

It'll be interesting to see how things change over the next ten years - will France still be the world's most popular tourist destination?  Will the number of Chinese and Russian tourists be even higher, or will they be lower?  I think it's a difficult industry to make predictions about and that only time will tell!

Image credits:

Both images were taken by me - please feel free to use them with the Creative commons license:

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