The world’s largest boat show and one of Europe’s largest tourism trade expos kicked off on Saturday in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart respectively. Organizers expect about half a million visitors.
Cuba wants more German tourists.
In Stuttgart, thousands had come to find information on the latest trends on the first day of the International exhibition for caravanning, motoring and tourism (CMT). “There’s huge interest,” CMT spokesman Thomas Brandl told the German news agency dpa, adding that he expected 60,000 visitors on the weekend. “We’re seeing that people want to travel again.”
New EU countries generate interest
More than 1,400 exhibitors from 82 countries have set up their stalls to market regions and tourism companies at the fair. Visitors flocked to booths set up by Cuba as well as the 10 new EU member states, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, which will join the union in May. For the first time, China and South Korea are also wooing German tourists.
According to Brandl, the adventure and bike tour sectors have boomed the most, with 25 percent more exhibitors than last year attending CMT. Overall, organizers said they expected to see the German tourism industry recover after two years of stagnation: Germans will spend an estimated €55 billion ($68.7 billion) on trips to foreign countries this year, Ulrich Kromer, the executive director of the Stuttgart fair told dpa.
Some question recovery
Willi Verhuven, the CEO of Alltours, Germany’s largest association of independent travel businesses, said he didn’t expect things to get better this year, however. “Where should this come from,” he asked in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. „Not only we, but also others have lowered their prices. How could we increase our revenues this way?”
German tourists in Mallorca.
Verhuven added that he expected the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca to come back as a favorite destination for German tourists.
But saying that the tourism sector still had a lot of potential to expand, German Economic Minister Wolfgang Clement described it as one of the most important motors of a service oriented society, the Associated Press news agency reported. Clement, who attended the opening of the world’s largest boat show, “Boot 2004,” in Düsseldorf, added that 2.8 million Germans were employed in the sector, with an additional 100,000 receiving vocational training.
“Boot” has a full house as well
Along with the minister, about 40,000 aquatics fans came to take a look at boats big and small. More than 1,600 exhibitors from 50 countries are present in Düsseldorf, offering everything from multimillion euro yachts to surf boards and snorkeling equipment.
Boot visitors inspect a luxury yacht.
While Boot organizers were also confident to do well this year, they didn’t suffer the same problems as the tourism industry in general. According to the Association of German Aquatics Businesses, revenues of €1.7 billion were up 2.3 percent in 2003. The industry expects sales will grow by another 3 to 5 percent this year.