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Between the everyday industry tasks of developing trade relationships and building a brand, East German destinations are also trying to raise awareness that was lost during the country’s division.
These cities and regions throughout Germany are looking to increase domestic visitation as well as attract some of the international visitors flocking to Berlin and Munich.
Skift spoke with marketing professions from five German tourism boards during the recent German Travel Market held in Erfurt, Germany, to learn more about their biggest challenges in the coming years.
Their observations and insights are edited below.
Wolfgang Gartner, Head of International Marketing at the Tourism Marketing Company of Saxony:
“The biggest challenge is that, even 25 years after German reunification, not only Saxony but former Eastern Germany is still not as well known as we would like it to be. The tourism trade is quite unwilling to introduce new destinations. It sticks to old itineraries, which were probably already in place in 1983.
They are hesitant because it’s an effort to make changes. Also, the Iron Curtain was up for so long that people have been trained to do sightseeing in certain parts of Germany. Now there are itineraries for western and eastern Europe and unfortunately Eastern Germany doesn’t make it onto either one.”
Katharina Lawrenz, Marketing at Tourism Schwerin:
“The biggest challenge is for us is to take our marketing in the best direction to reach the right tourists, to show what our unique selling proposition is. Our target audience is casual tourists that want to see castles and palaces.
It’s also figuring out how to combine cities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for incoming tourists. Nobody is coming to Schwerin from abroad just for Schwerin so we have to combine it with Rostock, Stralsund and Wismar so people come experience the cities together. It can be a good holiday, but Schwerin is only for two days.”
Steffi Gretschel, Head of International PR at Leipzig Tourism and Marketing:
“The biggest challenge for us is that the city really does have many facets so it doesn’t not come down to one unique selling proposition. It’s too diverse. It’s not the Baroque city like Dresden or the classical city like Weimar. It is many different things: the music, the peaceful revolution, Martin Luther, and contemporary arts. We have something for everybody but it’s hard to say we’re just one thing. Perhaps that is why people call if the ‘new Berlin,’ because people can relate to it and that makes it desirable.”
Lars Christiansen, Marketing at Tourism Schleswig-Holstein:
“The challenge is that tourism in the state of Schleswig-Holstein is very broad and we are about to bring on a new campaign. We have to get this campaign from the top to the bottom through all the small cities and towns. Our challenge is to get tourists to notice our new campaign throughout all the different towns in Schleswig-Holstein. We want to get smaller towns to participate in the campaign as well so they can give their own ideas and try to align it with our campaign. It has a viral marketing aspect to it.”
Doreen Post, Marketing at Tourism Quedlinburg:
“I think Quedlinburg is very unknown because it is in the Eastern part of Germany. It is a very unique Medieval town with more than 2,000 half-timbered houses. This is the cradle of Germany. It’s a really fantastic town but it’s unknown. It’s our challenge to make it known now.”