The German government is to relax visa regulations for frequent travellers from China, so the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is expecting a sharp rise in the numbers arriving. As the result of an initiative by the German Embassy in Beijing, it will be easier for frequent travellers from Beijing and Shanghai (business travellers, those visiting family and friends) to get a visa for travel to Germany. “Globalisation means that there are increasingly close ties between countries, people and markets. In this environment, the relaxed visa conditions for Chinese citizens are particularly welcome, especially from the perspective of small and medium-sized companies. I wish we could also introduce similar rules for other countries to make travel easier and to develop the tourism industry as a key economic factor”, said Ernst Burgbacher, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and Federal Government Commissioner for SMEs and Tourism.
China is a booming source market for travel to Germany
“China already plays an important role as a source market for inbound travel to Germany; year-on-year growth was over 20 per cent in 2011 alone”, declared Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). “As a result of the relaxation of visa requirements for frequent travellers and our intensive marketing, including the ‘Germany: open for business - trade fairs and conventions’ theme for 2012, the number of Chinese business travellers is set to rise sharply in the coming months.” The GNTB is also expecting the number of holidaymakers from China to increase, as the change in visa regulations also applies to accompanying spouses and children under 18. In 2011, the German Federal Statistical Office registered a total of over 1.3 million overnight stays by visitors from China, which was almost 230,000 more than in the previous year.
From January to April this year, there was a further year-on-year rise in the number of overnight stays, which were up by 20 per cent.
Travellers from China are high spenders
For many Chinese tourists, Germany is a firm fixture in any European tour. They travel in groups and each traveller is issued with an ADS visa based on an agreement with the European Commission. They stay for an average of eight nights in Germany and spend an average of €311 per day. The number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors has more than doubled since 2001 and the GNTB estimates that it will have doubled again by 2020, despite the fact that the visa regulations for frequent travellers do not apply to ADS visas. This trend is benefiting the hotel industry and the retail sector, with Chinese visitors accounting for almost a third of all revenue from tax-free goods in Germany in the first quarter of 2012. On average, they spend more than €600 per purchase.