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A record for tourism in Cologne for 2012: Breaking the 5 million mark

Vicky Karantzavelou - 27 February 2013, 10:49

More overnight stays than ever before in Cologne - 2.4 per cent increase in arrivals, 2.3 per cent more overnight stays - large increases in tourists from the Netherlands and the BRIC countries - 5 per cent more events.

COLOGNE - Tourism in Cologne continues to grow. The benchmark of 5 million overnight stays was reached for the first time in 2012. Last year a total of 2.91 million hotel guests came to Cologne for a total of 5.08 million overnight stays. This represents a 2.4 per cent increase in guest arrivals and a 2.3 per cent increase in overnight stays compared to 2011. In addition, 122 million tourists made day trips to the cathedral city.

"The dynamic increase of tourism in Cologne is continuing. We reached the 5 million benchmark - that's a very gratifying record," says Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the Cologne Tourist Board. "Last year the total revenue generated by tourism in Cologne was more than 7 billion euros, and an estimated 175 million euros of that amount flowed into the city's budget."

"The cathedral city continues to be a big favorite of business travellers and city-focused tourists. It has enhanced its position as one of the most popular destinations in Germany," says Josef Sommer, the Managing Director of the Cologne Tourist Board. "In a comparison of the 100 top tourist-destination cities in Europe, Cologne occupies a solid 24th place, ahead of destinations such as Zurich, Oslo, Salzburg and Bologna." These figures are based on the most recent report published by the European Cities Marketing Association, and they document the great attractiveness and international appeal of Cologne as a destination for leisure and business travel.

Photo caption: (left to right): Josef Sommer, General Manager of the Cologne Tourist Board; Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board; Stephanie Franke, Director of Conventions & Marketing.

Results from the source markets in 2012
In 2012, 902,694 visitors (+3.2 per cent) came to Cologne from abroad for a total of 1.73 million overnight stays (+3.4 per cent). This amounts to 34.1 per cent of the total number of visitors coming to Cologne. A total of 2.01 million visitors came to Cologne from inside Germany (+2 per cent) for a total of 3.35 million overnight stays (+1.7 per cent).

The largest contingents making overnight stays in Cologne came from the UK (203,443), the Netherlands (169,175), the USA (164,326), Belgium (93,019) and France (91,565). It is striking that the Netherlands have replaced the USA in third place on the list of the most important countries of origin, and that Belgium and France also gained places in the top rankings. A closer look at the development of overnight stays since 2000 reveals that the number of overnight stays by visitors from the Benelux countries has tripled; that also applies to visitors from the BRIC countries Brazil and Russia. Overnight stays in Cologne by visitors from China have even quadrupled since 2000. Data about visits and overnight stays by visitors from India has been collected only since 2006, but since then these figures have also developed very positively.

Cologne is a popular venue for meetings and conferences
According to the latest results of the "Conference Barometer Cologne", a total of 45,069 events were held in Cologne in 2012, and they were attended by 3.38 million participants. By comparison with 2011, the number of events increased by five per cent and the number of participants decreased slightly by 0.7 per cent. In 2012 there were 167 venues for meetings and other events in Cologne, including 20 event centers, 55 conference hotels and 92 event locations. The percentage of conference and event organizers from the business sector in Cologne is increasing (71 per cent). On the list of companies holding meetings and conferences in Cologne, the top place was occupied by medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies; they replaced the bank and insurance sector, which had for years been the most important sector in this category. Last year the communications, automotive and mechanical engineering sectors also increased the number of meetings they held in Cologne. In the nonprofit sector (29 per cent), business associations dominated private and social event organizers. The list of most important international source markets for the meeting and conference business is still headed by the UK, followed by Switzerland and the Netherlands. The most important source markets outside Europe are China and the USA, which rose three places in the overall evaluation in 2012.

The Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB) will continue to energetically promote Cologne as a conference venue in 2013, with a special focus on cooperation with science and research institutes in Cologne. The numerous universities, research institutes and other educational institutions taken as a whole constitute the third-largest "industry" in Cologne, and they use events as a basic tool for the transfer of knowledge.

Tourism development: Outlook and goals
The Cologne Tourist Board forecasts a continued moderate annual growth of approximately two per cent for tourism in Cologne and has set itself the goal of reaching six million overnight stays per year by 2020 at the latest. However, with regard to the development of tourism the focus is more on quality enhancement than on quantitative growth. To achieve its goal, the Cologne Tourist Board is relying on the expansion of its strong sector network, cooperation with local partners, targeted marketing in selected source markets, and the expansion of sustainable and barrier-free offerings for tourists. In addition, the company is planning to submit all of its services to further qualification measures in the ServiceQualitat Deutschland programme.

In 2013 the marketing activities of the Cologne Tourist Board and the Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB) will continue to use the slogan "Business Destination Cologne", which offers numerous possibilities for advertising Cologne as a location for meetings and conferences. In addition, they will publicize Cologne's "Aerospace Year", during which there will be some outstanding events, such as the annual conference of the Association of Space Explorers, which will bring more than 80 astronauts and cosmonauts from 30 countries to Cologne, and the 19th IAA Humans in Space Symposium in the German Aeronautics Center.

One focus of the advertising in the tourism market is a three-year campaign that is starting now and will be conducted in cooperation with the new Germanwings airline. The campaign will include online marketing measures and transportation system branding in the markets of the UK, Austria and Italy.

The website is currently undergoing a facelift and is being optimized in terms of its design and technology. It will go online again on 28th February. One of the innovations will be a newsroom with a social media wall that combines all the websites of the Cologne Tourist Board. The online shop, which was created in 2011, has by now established itself as the leading merchandising shop for Cologne, thanks to the help of strong partners such as

At the moment, the Cologne Tourist Board is also very intensely involved in the branding process for the city of Cologne, together with the city's Business Promotion Office and Koelnmesse. The Cologne Tourist Board can contribute its skills as a tourism organization to this effort, because it has systematically used a branding approach in its activities since 2002.

This year a number of high-calibre trade fairs and events such as ART COLOGNE, the EIGHT BRIDGES music festival, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 handball tournament, the Kolner Lichter fireworks extravaganza, gamescom and Anuga, will once again attract many visitors to Cologne and ensure a continued increase in guest numbers. In addition, new trade fairs such as FIBO (the leading international trade fair for fitness, wellness and health), which was previously held in Essen, Rheinschau Cologne, and the children's fashion trade fair will be adding additional flair to the city's event calendar. The Cologne Tourist Board is continuing to support the city's bid for the opportunity to host the ice hockey world championship in 2017. Projects such as the Archaeological Zone and the planned casino will further increase the attractiveness of Cologne as a travel destination.

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