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Happy Halloween investments to give your property portfolio a treat
October 31, 2013Article by Ray Withers
As we get into the spirit of Hallowe’en (derived from All Hallow’s Eve), our thoughts turn to ghoulish costumes, games and pranks. Celebrated in many countries around the world on October 31st, Hallowe’en (or Halloween), traditionally a time to remember the dead, has developed into a festival of frights and fun.
200 million euros put the delight in fright night
But what has Halloween got to do with property? Let’s take Germany as a case in hand. Originally rejecting Halloween as an American fad, Germany now embraces the celebration with open arms. According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung (Germany’s leading newspaper), Halloween now generates an astounding 200 million euros a year, as the third most commercialised tradition after Christmas and Easter.
While trick or treating (Süßes oder Saures) might not be as popular in Germany as, say, the USA or UK, Germany is huge on dressing up in Halloween costumes. This can be accounted to the general popularity for dressing up in the country, including Oktoberfest, Fasching and St. Martinstag (the latter being a festival where children do go door-to-door with their lanterns, collecting sweets and baked goods).
Pumpkin carving is another whole-heartedly embraced tradition in Germany, with pumpkins decorating many homes from mid-October. Retz, Austria (near Vienna) even hosts a whole pumpkin festival weekend, complete with an elaborate Halloween parade of floats.
Saintly sweets vs trick or treat
Halloween in Germany falls on the same day as another, long-standing German tradition. Reformationstag (Reformation Day) is a Protestant religious holiday in remembrance of the Reformation, sparked by the 1517 posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. To ensure it was not completely overshadowed by Halloween, Luther-Bonbons were created years ago to remind Protestant children of the religious significance of the day.
November 1st also follows as a further religious holiday in Germany. Known as All Saints’ Day, it was set by the Roman Catholic Church to pay tribute to the saints in the independent Evangelical Lutheran church.
Over the years, such religious overtones have clashed somewhat with the Halloween festivities. Bavarian Halloween fans were in for a nasty shock when celebrations were shut down by the church in 2008. Deeply Catholic Bavaria announced some 50 Halloween parties in Munich alone must be shut down on the stroke of midnight.
Bavarian Bishop Johannes Friedrich said: “Halloween is just a sham. The grinning pumpkins are hollow, there’s nothing in them and nothing to it.”
Spooky Bavaria and the Swan King
Bavaria (and Munich in particular, where ghost walks are extremely popular) continues to lead the way as the most popular tourist destinations around Halloween. Despite (or perhaps because of) this being the area where the Catholic Church is strongest, it also hosts some of the spookiest parts of Germany.
The Lower Bavarian town of Regen in the Bavarian Forest, which consists of 55 hamlets in five quarters, boasts the reputedly-haunted Burg Weißenstein castle with its “white lady” ghost; along with The Glass Forest (Gläserner Wald), consisting of glass tree sculptures which decorate the landscape. Regen also capitalises on the current fashion for spa breaks, as it is considered to be an “air health resort.”
Neuschwanstein Castle, in southwest Bavaria, is the top tourism destination in Germany, beating even UNESCO World Heritage site Cologne Cathedral to first place. Not surprising when you consider it was both the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle and also featured in the 1968 film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The castle was commissioned circa 1869 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and built in admiration of the German composer Richard Wagner. Wagner, however, never visited the castle before he died in 1883. While King Ludwig did live in the castle, his mysterious death in 1886 meant he never saw its completion. Appropriately, given the castle’s later fame, Ludwig was known as the Swan King, or the Fairy Tale King.
Thrill-seeking tourists scare up hotel room profits
As tourists once again flock to the area to celebrate Halloween, it further boosts hotel trade and, in turn, hotel sector investment. The authors of BNP Paribas Real Estate’s latest report cite hotel investment as a prime asset, with Germany showing a significant annual increase in hotel investments (121% equating to almost 800 million euros).
Ray Withers, Property Frontiers CEO, comments: “Hotel room investment, particularly in Germany, is one of the most popular and profitable asset classes on the market today. This is particularly significant in high tourism areas, such as Bavaria; and most notable around festival times. Germany is perfectly places to take advantage of numerous factors which combine to make it a number one investment location.”
Get in touch on +44 1865 202 700 to find out more about investing in Germany’s number one asset class.