Germany plans to cash in on the worldwide wellness industry. 415,000 international visitors took a health-oriented holiday in Germany in 2008. This is in addition to 70,000 medical tourists. The main source market was Switzerland, accounting for 57% of visitors. Final 2009 figures are not yet available but are expected to be higher. According to the 'Quality Monitor' German tourism industry survey, 40% of international visitors go to Germany for rest and relaxation while 14% specifically want to enhance their health and fitness.
The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is gearing up to make 2011 the year of wellness tourism marketing. Petra Hedorfer of the GNTB explains, "We want to boost the number of overnight stays by specifically promoting Germany as a destination for health and fitness holidays." The 2011 theme year concentrates on three main areas: spas and health resorts, wellness and beauty hotels and medical tourism. One of its main marketing tools is the www.germany.travel website, which offers extensive information about health and fitness holidays. The theme year content will be expanded and a special section on medical tourism will be added in readiness for 2011. Print products for each area will be available in various languages. The GNTB will also promote the theme year and its three areas of focus on fact-finding tours, in workshops and at trade fairs and roadshows.
Germany's spas and health resorts are a destination of choice for preventive care, rehabilitation and treatment of chronic illnesses. As preparation for the theme year, the GNTB has signed a cooperation agreement with the German Spa Association (DHV) to launch a global image campaign showing Germany's spas and health resorts as unspoilt destinations offering innovative health treatments.
GNTB is marketing wellness and beauty with a cross-media concept that centres around hotels and is supported by the independent hotel sector and wellness tourism brands. They are joining forces to promote Germany's wellness and beauty hotels as oases of calm and well-being, offering high-quality treatments with which guests can spoil themselves. The key markets of the global image campaign are the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
Germany already receives many visitors who come for medical treatment. German clinics are renowned for their excellent quality and reasonable prices. GNTB will reinforce this image, highlighting the top clinics for international patients and the tourist attractions of the nearby towns and cities. It is targeting the United States, Russia, the Arab Gulf States and selected European countries.
The wellness-hotel sector caters for the middle- to high-end market. For well over a decade, most 4-star and 5-star hotels have provided comprehensive wellness areas with high-tech saunas, steam baths and jacuzzis to their clients. Despite competing with Switzerland and Austria, Germany remains Europe’s largest wellness market. In the competitive, sophisticated market, client expectations are constantly on the rise, along with the growing number of services and providers. Four- and 5-star hotels must regularly renovate their facilities to stay in the wellness race.