Interview with Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board

Culture, nature, and innovation are the central elements at the core of Destination Germany  – and this is reflected in the tourism-related demand. These three elements convert Germany into a paradise for creative tourism, a kind of experiential tourism, promoted by the international organization Creative Tourism Network®.

 “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.”

The initiative German Creative Destination Awards was created 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 as “International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development”.

For this reason, we had the pleasure of interviewing Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board, to ask her about current trends in the German tourism industry and the future of creative tourism in Destination Germany. GNTB has been working internationally to promote Germany as a travel destination for more than 60 years and playing a major role in the promotion of Germany as a travel destination on the international market.

copyright © DZT/Farideh Diehl

 Dear Mrs. Hedorfer, we thank you very much for your interest and time. Germany is known throughout the world for beer culture and the Oktoberfest – what would you tell people with this image in mind?

German beer and the Oktoberfest have, of course, been formative for Germany’s image abroad for decades. Not least since reunification 30 years ago, the image of Germany as a travel destination with its creative capital Berlin has become much more diverse and stands for an innovative and growing cultural and creative economy. This meets with a positive response from international guests: for 20 years, we have been among the TOP 10 travel destinations worldwide (UNWTO), and in the Nation-Brand Index, Germany is at the top of all countries overall with a very good image across six location factors. Germany as a travel destination is characterized by city and cultural tourism; among European travelers, Germany will even be the No. 1 cultural travel destination for the second time in 2020.

What is the strategy of the German National Tourist Board regarding sustainable tourism?

Germany has been politically occupying the topic of climate and environmental protection for many years. For example, about 1/3 of Germany’s land area is protected. In the Sustainable Development Goal Index, Germany’s efforts in the area of sustainability will place it among the TOP 5 worldwide in 2020. In the wake of the Corona pandemic, we see increasing evidence that travelers have a heightened interest in sustainable offerings.

Sustainability has equally been an asset of our brand for decades. Every year it is integrated as a common thread in all our marketing campaigns, for example through the aspects of nature, regionality, tradition, and culture. We are convinced that the quality of sustainable offers in Germany will convince customers worldwide. This is one of the reasons why certified sustainable accommodations, regions, and activities in Germany have been a particular focus of our communications since 2020 with the “Feel Good” campaign.

More information on sustainability and travel destination Germany here.

Where would you say the potential of the German tourism industry lies with regard to creative tourism?

Back in 2010, we recognized the potential of the creative industries for tourism and created a campaign called “Creative Tourism.” For this, we were awarded the reddot Design Award in 2011. We have been working for years with important Capitols of Creativity such as Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt, and Leipzig, and other German destinations to highlight the importance of creative tourism for our international guests. Painters, musicians, architects, artistic crafts, and international cultural events are the creative potentials of Germany as a travel destination that can be found everywhere in Germany. Again and again, we have supported and presented German cities as interesting, creative destinations internationally in the context of the applications for the European Capital of Culture. For example, Weimar in 1999, Essen in 2010 and Chemnitz in 2025.

Do you think that the pandemic and the new interest in staycation will increase the curiosity of German citizens to rediscover their intangible heritage by participating in creative experiences in the country?

Definitely. We see this trend during the pandemic, which of course can also be observed within Germany. I am sure that Germany, with its good location and accessibility in the heart of Europe, will continue to attract many young creatives and digital nomads to spend a longer period of time in Germany to pursue their creative interests and work.

In the new paradigm, can we bet on creative tourism as a catalyst for tourism and creative industries?

Not least due to Corona, society and tourism are changing faster and faster. Major topics such as digitalization and sustainability are dominating the discourse. Creative tourism, with its authentic, immersive, meaningful, and sustainable offerings, will be one of the important pillars in the recovery of tourism and, in line with the UN’s “build back better” strategy, will make tourism more resilient worldwide and in Germany.

For more information about the German National Tourist Board.