After five record years in a row, the number of tourists in Dresden has dropped for the first time this year. Cultural events can contribute to attracting more tourists - but xenophobia obviously doesn't.
Dresden's Marketing company provided on Wednesday (26.08.2015) its semi-annual report on tourism. From January to June 2015, approximately 900,000 visitors came to the city - a slight decrease of 1.7 percent compared to the same period last year, as opposed to growing numbers for most German destinations.
The approximate 1.8 million overnight stays constitutes a drop of 3.2 percent compared to the previous year. Despite the overall decline in numbers, there were more visitors from Switzerland, Poland and China. On the other hand, almost 30 percent less Russians came compared to the same period last year. The economic crisis and political instability in Russia could explain this strong drop, explained Dresden Marketing.
Nevertheless, a new record was established for the month of May: Dresden counted 448,131 overnight stays this year.
Uncertainty caused by PEGIDA
The hotel industry points out other reasons to explain the declining number of visitors: "We didn't get many big congresses in the first half-year and the negative press surrounding the city also contributed to dampening the mood," said Jörg Potreck, spokesman for the Dresden Hotel Alliance.
Since October 2014, the anti-islamization group PEGIDA which was established in Dresden has grabbed the media's attention. Over several months, large demonstrations against the German immigration and asylum policy were organized and included xenophobic slogans.
The city of Dresden is nevertheless hoping to at least see figures comparable to last year's for the second half of the year. It counts on major events such as the presentation of the European Cultural Awards 2015 and the 10th anniversary of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, as well as the annual traditional Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt, to boost its tourism.
eg/ej (Dresden Marketing Company, Saxon Department of Statistics)