From Bremerhaven to Bavaria to Oberammergau and Berlin, the 43rd edition of the German Travel Mart, the largest incoming workshop for Germany was the stage for new product development for markets around the world including North America.
German National Tourist Office representatives announced several upcoming events and themes for the country going forward: 2018, A Culinary Theme throughout the country and the city of Triers will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth; 2019 marks 100 Years of Bauhaus. But the biggest draw on the horizon is the Passion Play in Oberammergau, which will be performed in 2020.
European Destination Management company Tumlare has been appointed GSA for the Oberammergau Passion Play, which takes place every 10 years in the Bavarian Alpine town of Oberammergau. Joseph Green, regional director – Americas, said agents and tour operators can purchase tickets to the Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 through Tumlare when purchasing under 1,000 tickets. Beyond that figure, travel agents and operators may book directly with the organizers.
The major American players are The Travel Corporation companies Trafalgar Tours, Uniworld and Insight Vacations, as well as Globus, Tauck and Collette; Fabrizio Fabbri of Unitours also expressed interest in planning for the Passion Play in 2020.
The first Passion Play performance was held over the graves of the Black Death victims. This location was used until 1820. By 1930, organizers constructed an open-air stage with a seating capacity of 5,200. In 1999, the entire theater underwent a $15 million renovation, making it wheelchair-accessible and adding 4,720 covered seats.
More than 2,000 citizens make up the actors, singers, instrumentalists and stage technicians that bring the play to life in approximately six hours of playing time.
Nearby attractions include King Ludwig II’s Linderhof, the only one which was completed and most resembles his visions of a “Bavarian Versailles,” as well as several UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Bamberg Old Town, Margravial opera House in Bayreauth, Regensburg (Germany’s best preserved medieval town,) Wurzburg Residence with the Court Gardens, Upper Germanic Roman Limes (a set of forts, watchtowers, walls and palisades that cover about 350 miles,) and the Pilgrimage Church of Wies at Pfaffenwinkel.
Tumlare Corporation, which became part of the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) in 2007, is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.
Other developments in the region from GTM
Julianne Ziemer, international product manager at Delta Vacations, said her company plans to incorporate one or two nights in Nurenberg in 2018 itineraries., and also considering the addition of new sightseeing daytrips in cities like Berlin, adding more time in Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart.
Said Ziemer, “I was very impressed with Nuremberg, I could see us guiding our clients to fly into Munich and either taking a train or driving for a day or two in Nurenberg.” What also appealed to her was the history, and the culinary angle of food, wine and beer.
Tauck product manager Michelle Molnar said the tour operator is “building new programs for 2019, but we hope to incorporate and try some new components as early as fall of 2017 and I discovered some new destinations that we will be able to incorporate into our river tours and land tours that visit Germany.”
Avalon Charters & Theme Cruises, meanwhile, will be adding a program in Berlin in 2018, said Roberta Cesana.
Cesana also took a close look at experiential travel options such as Cookionista, a food tour and regional cooking (lebkuchen in Bavaria for instance) workshop, which is working not only in Nuremberg but in various cities in Germay.
Mark Spivey, director of international sales at Maritim Hotels, one of Germany’s best-known hotel systems, reported that nearly 3,000 rooms out of the 9,680 rooms in Maritim Hotels across Germany have been revamped with upgrades across rooms, bathrooms and public areas. Additionally, Spivey said Maritim experienced 9% growth in the American market, systemwide.
Eurobound’s Europe operations manager Katrin Heilig said the company “would like to extend our offer in countryside locations and focus on the culinary aspect that Germany offers, for example, Franconian wine country or Wine region on Rhine River as well as some more culinary activities in cities like Nuremberg. I have found hotels in the countryside that we may cooperate with in the future including properties on the Rhine River, in the Black Forest, and in Murnau for example.”
Susan Rienitz from the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven mentioned that the major extension focusing on 300 years of immigration history has made the museum, founded in 2005, the first museum in Europe to address both aspects of migration, emigration and immigration, at the same time. The new wing houses the new exhibition focusing on 300 years of immigration history to Germany. In addition, the existing permanent exhibition has been supplemented by 300 years of immigration to the U.S.A.
Making a stay in this Hanseatic city easier for those on the ancestry trail is the new 98-room Liberty Hotel, located right on Bremen’s waterfront adjacent to the museum.