As the Covid-19 crisis quietens in Europe, the German city of Karlsruhe is more than ever convinced that its future will be in the return of conventions and trade fairs.
Karlsruhe – the second largest city in the southwestern Land of Baden-Württemberg in Germany – is already an important MICE and business travel destination. The city is the seat of the Federal Court of Justice, the first UNESCO City of Media Arts in Germany as well as an important address for creative, cultural and research professionals.
With 655,000 arrivals and 1.15 million overnights per year, Karlsruhe’s share in Baden Württemberg’s tourism sector remains small. The region’s second most populated city generated 2.7% of all arrivals and 2% of all overnights in the Land in 2019. Karlsruhe is mostly known for its museums, and its cultural scene, while cross-border tourists from France and Switzerland also come for shopping.
Tourists from abroad represented 22% of all arrivals in 2019 – with Switzerland, the Netherlands and France being the top inbound markets.
However, when looking at MICE, Karslruhe remains a leading destination in Baden Württemberg. In 2019, over half a million visitors came for a trade fair or an exhibition at Karlsruhe Neue Messe, while an additional 200,000 travellers were recorded in the various facilities of the Congress and Exhibition Centre at Festplatz. In total, the entire region around Karlsruhe attracted 3.5 million participants to 23,400 events in 2018.
Tourism is slowly recovering, with most facilities fully operational since early June. When Karlsruhe and its environs recorded an incidence of less than 35 Covid-19 cases for 100,000 inhabitants over a period of seven days, the regional government decided to give added flexibility to conference and fair organisers.
Conferences and meetings can be organised with a ratio of 7 sq m per person. “However, it means that only small meetings can for now be organised with a maximum of 100 to 200 people inside – depending of the size of the meeting room. Outdoor events can, however, welcome a larger capacity of up to 750 participants,” explains Yvonne Halmisch, Head of Communication for KTG Karlsruhe Tourismus GmbH.
To attract more participants, Messe Karlsruhe introduced a concept of virtual events which can be combined with an on-site presence. Hybrid events have already been conducted with success since the end of 2020.
Renovated congress centre and three new hotels
And as Karlsruhe believes that its MICE activity will be back, many development projects are taking place in the MICE field. The Karslruhe Stadthalle – Germany’s biggest inner-city convention complex – is currently undergoing renovations. By the end of the year or latest by early 2022, the Stadthalle will provide cutting-edge technology, an innovative lighting concept and an attractive design. Some €80m are being invested into the facility.
There is also a string of new hotel projects around the main railway station – a facility which is just 10 minutes’ walk from Karlsruhe convention centre. Behind the station, a new business district – Ka Drei – is in full swing. It comprises an office tower, a hotel, a shopping gallery and a new inter-regional bus station.
Among the hotels is the four-star Intercity hotel of the Deutsche Hospitality group. It is scheduled for opening in the second quarter of 2023 and will have 194 rooms, a restaurant, a bar, as well as a 233 sq m event space and four conference rooms.
Two more hotels are due to be developed: Motel One – a budget brand – is due to open a 250-room property near the city centre. The hotel is due to open by the end of the year. Another project is the Niu Hotel to be open in the Oststadt district. Located in the middle of Karlsruhe emerging cultural district, the property will have 290 rooms – including 120 hotel apartments. Construction is due to start this year.
Getting to the city is also easier than ever thanks to the new DB app.