Interview with Dr. Heike Döll-König, CEO of Tourismus NRW

Best German Creative Destination Awards is an initiative created by the international organization Creative Tourism Network® with the aim of enhancing and promoting German tourist destinations that focus on culture, creativity, and intangible heritage to reinvent their tourism model. The call is one of the various projects promoted by the global creative tourism network in 2021, declared by the United Nations “International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development”.

urbanana was awarded as Best Strategy for the Development of Creative Tourism Germany

Best German Creative Destination Strategy

@ Tourismus NRW e.V. “Creative Tourism is a kind of tourism which offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through
active participation in courses and learning experiences, which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are taken.”

On this occasion, we had the pleasure to interview the managing director of tourism NRW, Dr. Heike Döll-König to tell us more about the local creative culture in NRW and how urbanana highlights and amplifies its continuous growths.

The cooperation project urbanana was awarded above all for its exceptional strategic approach promoting creative city tourism in NRW and supporting the rich cultural and intangible heritage of the individual cities, stimulating and helping to shape the ongoing development of the young creative and digital scene with projects.

Why do you think creative/experiential tourism plays such an important role in your destination?

A creative and inspiring environment with a high quality of life is an important factor for travelers, students, and people who long for foreign shores: Be it for just a short trip, for a little longer, or – forever! For this reason, we have launched the FLOW.NRW project and the urbanana brand, thus also creating a name for our metropolitan region. With urbanana, we want to shine the spotlight on the creative neighborhoods, the undiscovered corners, the sheer endless cultural offerings, and the thriving digital scene between the Rhine and Ruhr. urbanana is the indie record store next door, the basement club in the back building, the kiosk around the corner, the gallery in the garage, the renowned museum in the center, the start-up in the old coal mine site, and the artists’ collective from the neighborhood. And we always discover this creative thicket in interaction with our protagonists, the creative minds and digital pioneers of our urban jungle. Because this is also part of our creative tourism strategy: We want to give our guests, travelers, and stayers alike, as multifaceted and authentic a picture as possible and present urbanana to them as it really is: a region with rough edges and definitely worth a visit!

What are the intangible heritage resources (gastronomy, traditions, music, crafts, etc.) in your region with the greatest potential for tourism?

North Rhine-Westphalia has an immensely large but also a very heterogeneous treasure trove of cultural resources. Hardly any other region in Germany can boast so many and varied urban spaces. In just one day, you can get a taste of artistic flair in Düsseldorf, soak up the industrial culture in Bochum and enjoy a freshly tapped Kölsch in Cologne’s old town. And it is precisely this diversity that we want to show with urbanana. This includes, for example, the distinct urban art scene that runs through urbanana as a whole. The creative quarters can be discovered so incredibly well via our Urban Art Walks, which lead past impressive murals and lovingly designed tiles by international and national artists. With or without a guide, we recommend getting ready for a long walk and strolling through urbanana’s sometimes pretty, sometimes rough neighborhoods littered with artistic images.
When it comes to urbanana, one should always be open to a detour and leave the beaten path. The same goes for the musical offerings. The musical heritage tells a lot about the history of North Rhine-Westphalia. You can experience this first-hand, for example, via the pop history tour entitled “The Sound of urbanana.” All you need is your smartphone and you’ll find yourself on the paths of Nena, Gentleman and Kraftwerk, passing various clubs, bars and concert venues or even record stores that inspired these artists: inside and helped shape the sound of urbanana.
Closely linked to a thriving music scene is, of course, a lively night culture. This is, for example, an evening in one of urbanana’s numerous bars and pubs, which are as diverse as the region itself. From the quaint Kölsch pub to the extravagant rooftop bar, you’ll find everything centered here and unusually close to each other. And of course, there are legendary clubs of every musical genre. If you are thirsting for a touch of live music and a night of dancing, you should definitely take a look at “Deep Talk NRW”. In our video editorial series, we portray artists, label owners, and club owners within their urban creative space and let them talk about their art.
These are just a few examples of urbanana’s cultural diversity. See for yourself this vibrant metropolitan region in the middle of Western Europe.

Given the various opportunities in your area, how do you define creative tourism in the context of / with urbanana?

We bring together different perspectives on the topic of the city: We start at the interfaces of the creative industries, the tourism industry, and the digital economy and think tourism and location marketing together. Where can we learn from each other? How can we break down any inhibitions, jointly leverage potential that is still (under)utilized, and create added value for our target group? Because: urbanana really is – in the truest sense of the word – an attractive place to work and live.

For more information about urbanana.