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Germany's shoreline rides the wave of tourism

On Germany's shores, tourism has the wind in its sails. Despite being very focussed on the summer with a limited number of foreign arrivals, indicators are green for the hotel sector: tourism arrivals are increasing, driving business performance up with strong growth. Zoom on this lesser-known shoreline market that does more than just keep its head above water.

Germany has 2,389 kilometers of coastline divided into two areas by the border with Denmark. To the west of the Scandinavian cap, Germany's beaches are on the North Sea; to the east the Baltic Sea. Three Ländern are on the shoreline. West to east there are Lower Saxony which goes deeply into the lands beyond Hanover, the Schleswig-Holstein, a point in Germany that rubs shoulders with Scandinavia and finally Mecklembourg-Vorpommern. Hamburg, which acts as an enclave in the Schleswig-Holstein, is the second city in the country in terms of number of residents. A port city by excellence, it is the only one on the coast with more than a million residents (1.8 million in the city, 3.5 lmillion in the conglomeration). Kiel and Lübeck, which are both in the Schleswig-Holstein, and Rostock (Mecklembourg-Vorpommern) have around 200,000 to 250,000 inhabitants.

Tourist arrivals are up thanks to leisure tourism

Tourist arrivals and the number of nights are up on German shores, driven by the good results of the country's economy. While tourist nights are estimated to be at 40.4 million units in Lower Saxony, two regions in this vast Länder need to be pointed out in order to develop a more precise idea of activity along the coast. Thus the coast along the North Sea (Nordseeküste) and the East Frisian Islands (Ostfriesische Inseln) have posted a total of 12.6 million tourist nights, or one third of the activity in the Länder and a 2.1% increase in volume over the previous year.

The Daten Statistisches Landesämter Institute estimates that the Schleswig-Holstein Länder represented 7.6 million hotel nights in 2012, with tourism generally concentrated on the shoreline. The regional tourist office, meanwhile, announced an increase in the number of tourist arrivals by no less than 7% between 2013 and 2014, through the dynamism of leisure tourism, which is significant in this sector. Kiel, the biggest city in the Länder, is one of Germany's most important ports. The city attracts passengers from Oslo and Göteborg from seaways, cruises (127 ships will stop in 2015), while its shipping port attracts increasing volumes of business; however this does not allow it to stand out within business events tourism.  Kiel, in fact, ranks 186th in the ICCA ranking, which counts far reaching international conventions. Five events were counted there. In comparison, Hamburg organized 39. On the Baltic sea competition is harsh and certain cities are far ahead. Copenhagen, for example (109 events), Gdansk (17), and even Malmö (13). Lübeck and Rostock are not part of the ICCA classification

In Mecklembourg, where hotel nights posted 10.9 million units in 2012, three-quarters were realized in coastal areas: 3.2 million in Ostseeküste, 2.2 million on the Rügen and Hiddensee islands, close to 2 million on the Island of Usedom and finally 736,000 on the islands of Fischland, Darss and Zingst. Figures announced in 2014 show that business is booming. Around 13.3 million nights are expected in the Länder, including bed and breakfasts*: the volume of nights increased by more than 6% in the last two years.

* 1.6 million nights in B&Bs in 2012

Despite competition from other types of accommodations, hotel figures remain positive thanks to international arrivals.

The share of the hotel industry is limited by the high number of vacation centers, B&Bs and guest houses and apartment rentals on this shoreline that is a destination  in itself. Of the 12.6 million tourist nights in Lower Saxony, just over two million nights were realized which represent 156 properties for 11,737 beds. In the two other Ländern, classic hotels are a bit more important due to the presence of major conurbations (Kiel, Lübeck, Rostock). En 2012, hotel nights represent 31% of nights in Schleswig-Holstein, or the same number of nights found in a number of nights as in apartments, residences and vacation centers combined. On the shores of Mecklembourg, which has just under 60,000 hotel beds, the hotel industry represents around 40% of tourist nights. And yet, the activity is growing at hotels. According to data from MKG Hospitality, the revenue per available room at Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenbourg grew by by 6.1% and 4.3% respectively throughout 2014, such growth is higher than Germany's average. Kiel posted an increase in its occupancy rate by 5.5 percentage points to 70.2%. With the 2.4% drop in average daily rate ( to 72.7 € excl. taxes), the Revenue per available room is up by 6%. A Lübeck, with its occupancy rate at 58,1%, up by 1.6 points, and with an average daily rate up by 1.6% (to 73.9 € HT in Germany), the RevPAR is up by 4.4%. Finally, in Rostock, the occupancy rate is 67.3% in 2014, for a drop by 1.5 percentage points, with respect to 2013. But thanks to growth in the average daily rate excl. taxes by 2.9% (to 66.7€ excl. taxes), the RevPAR was up slightly by 0.6%.

The positive trend continues in the first quarter 2015. Thus, in March, for example, the RevPAR in Kiel, Lübeck and Rostock is up by 10.8%, 29.3% and 6.1% respectively. In Lower Saxony, the calendar for 2015 gives rise to concern. "The disadvantageous constellation of long weekends in 2015 generally leaves less room for short stays. It will not be easy to beat the annual results of 2014 for the next few years because competition is strong," declared Carolin Ruh, Director TourismusMarketing Niedersachsen GmbH.

Strong domestic tourism overshadows the weakness of international arrivals

On the shoreline of Lower Saxony tourist arrivals are higher in the summer. Nonetheless an increase in the number of short stays is evident in June and September, making it possible to sustain the results of the activity at each end of the season. On the East Frisian Islands, the low volume of arrivals in the spring is compensated for by very dense activity in the summer. It is a family oriented destination that is affordable and has mostly domestic clientele: close to 9 in 10 travelers are German, according to the tourist office. In the North Sea competition is harsh and landscapes don't offer much of a contrast. Thus, Belgians tend to favor beach resorts such as Ostende, which is also known for its museums and casino, rather than head to the beaches in Lower Saxony. Thus, most foreign tourists come from nearby countries. In 2014, 30% of international tourists came from the Netherlands, 10% from Denmark and 7% from Poland, where the increase was by around 25%. The same is true in the Länder Schleswig-Holstein where 6% of nights are international. Despite it all, this clientele is experiencing strong growth: +20% between 2007 and 2012 and +2.8% for domestic tourists. In 2014, Mecklembourg was pleased to have achieved one million foreign nights, with an 8.7% increase over 2013. Sweden is the leading source market, with 20% of foreign clientele in the region.

Chain hotels make a few incursions into the market

Some hotel groups, particularly domestic ones, are positioned on Germany's shoreline. The group Ringhotels operates close to 130 three or four star properties in Germany, fourteen of which are on the shoreline. Two properties are in Lübeck, one in Kiel and Rostock and another even on the island of Usedom. There is also the hotel chain Atlantic Hotels, which operates nine properties in its portfolio and focuses on business tourism but positioned itself in Kiel and Lübeck. Nordic Hotels operates four properties in Kiel positioned on the midscale. It also owns three hotels under the economy brand Basic Hotels, a hotel in Kiel and one in Lübeck under a franchise agreement with Best Western. Best Western, the eighth international group in terms of number of rooms, is also very present  at the beach resorts. At the beginning of the year he announced the signature of a hotel in Waldschlösschen, north of Rostock. This is the twelfth property in the group on Germany's shoreline. International brands are also present in the geographic area.

Kiel has 874 rooms at corporate operated chains, within properties under the brands Atlantic, Steigenberger, InterCity, B&B, Maritim, GHotel, Best Western and Comfort. At Rostock, in addition to the presence of brands belonging to the group Steigenberger and one Best Western unit, chains such as Radisson Blu, Motel One, Pentahotel and Ibis are also present. Lübeck is the market where corporate chains are the most present, with 1,174 available rooms. In addition to major cities, these Länder in Northern Germany also include many stations along the shoreline, on islands or close to lakes further inland, where resort hotels are particularly operated by by TUI (Dorfhotel, Iberotel, Robinson), Maritim, Dorint, IFA and also Van der Valk.

What is lies in store for Germany's shoreline?

The Länder Schleswig-Holstein wishes to increase its accommodations capacity, renovate existing properties and offer new concepts adapted to the tourist target. The tourist agency Schleswig-Holstein hopes to see 2000 new hotel beds this year, and 4,500 before 2020. The Länder hope to gain some 5 million nights by 2025 across all types of property, and an increase in revenue tourism by 30%, in order to go to 6.9 billion euros to 9 billion euros in the next decade. Finally a new marketing strategy has been implemented in order to make the Länder more attractive and improve customer satisfaction and battle against the competition. The new slogan speaks for itself: "Schleswig - Holstein. The true north". The promotional organization also hopes to rejuvenate clientèle by developing athletic, and health tourism with an Eco-responsable bent to it. Institutional spending should make possible to both support SMBs, to improve reception infrastructures and roads. To further develop business  tourism, as marketing resources must be deployed so that shoreline cities are able to offer incentives and team-building. In coastal Lower Saxony, the priority remains, according to Kristin Knobloch, responsable for marketing projects, improving marketing operations. In Mecklembourg, "the goal is to remain attractive year round. Investments in toutrist infrastructures are needed to boos the off-season period," declared Harrys Glawe, Minister of the economy and tourism development of the Land. In the meantime, the beach resort in Budentannenweg, in a suburb north of Rostock, acquired a 93-room proeprty at the beginning of the year. As results are also on a growth trend, Things should warm up a bit in the land of teh in the Sea North Seas.

Also read:

  • Germany in excellent shape in 2014
  • Germany aims for 80 million foreign nights by 2020

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