”Try Stuttgart” may well be the post-Covid tagline for the metropolis in Southwest Germany. The city wants to delight its visitors yet again.
Stuttgart is a big player in German tourism. Back to 2019, the last “normal” year for tourism, the city recorded 2.1 million travellers and 4.1 million overnights. 70% of the latter were generated by the domestic market. In 2020, Stuttgart registered only 0.86 million tourists and 1.65 million overnights. We asked Armin Dellnitz, CEO of Stuttgart Marketing GmbH, how he sees the tourism recovery taking place.
I am convinced that we have a bright future for our tourism industry, as I believe that we offer the perfect product for the tourist of tomorrow. While we are a big city, we still have this kind of relaxed village-like atmosphere. This is an important factor which is making our guests at ease. Our strengths are our sense of conviviality, our cultural offer, our proximity with nature – even inside town, and our strong economy represented by world-renowned brands.
Beside the domestic market, which nationalities do you foresee will recover first?
Our top market is the USA, due to the presence here of Germany’s US army headquarters. The opening of the EU to US travellers goes in the right direction. We also forecast a quick rebound from the Swiss market – our second largest incoming source, due to its close proximity to us. And we see a rapid return of Italians as well as French. Tourism from China was expanding fast before the Covid crisis, as Stuttgart is well known due to the presence of Daimler Benz and Porsche and the proximity to the Black Forest. However, Chinese travellers’ return will take time.
What could be your slogan to attract travellers again?
I would like to say to people “Try Stuttgart” as we want to surprise our visitors. But in the way that Stuttgart generates fond memories for them. This could be linked to culture, gastronomy, outdoor activities, our people or our nature.
Did hotels suffer from the COVID crisis?
I have to say that although Stuttgart hotels suffered, they fared slightly better than in the rest of Germany. None of them has so far closed down. This is due to the fact that our government was financially very supportive of our industry. But also because Stuttgart’s hotels enjoyed extremely good business in the past years. That gave them the financial strength to cope with the situation. I think that the most delicate situation is now. Financial help has stopped, hotels have reopened, but occupancy rates remain low. I expect that occupancy could pass the 50% mark again in the second half of 2021, and maybe even reach 60%.
How is the business travel market doing?
It will be the market segment to have the slowest recovery. This is a real challenge, as 70% of Stuttgart travellers were coming for business. Conditions are still difficult for large congresses and exhibitions as people are still not feeling ready to travel to big events.
How will the Stuttgart 21 massive project affect the destination Stuttgart?
It is a huge project which will considerably improve the transport status of our city. It comprises the transformation of our main rail station. Travel times will be reduced, and rail connectivity to Munich and Austria as well as to our airport will be improved. It will also help create brand-new infrastructure with a spectacular iconic architecture, new green spaces, a new district and the construction of a landmark congress centre. With additional hotels around, all tourist attractions and facilities will be linked to the main train station.