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Oktoberfest 2013: Why Beer and Sausages Are Helping to Recession-Proof the German Property Market

September 20, 2013Article by Ray Withers

The crowds are about to flock to current ‘tourism Mecca’ Munich once again for Okboberfest 2013 (September 21 – October 6).  The renowned beer festival is just one of a growing number of reasons why Germany (and particularly Munich) took the lead in this year’s UN World Tourism Organisation rankings, with record hotel booking of over 400 million overnight stays.

UK travellers lead the latest upsurge

Figures just released by the German Federal Bureau of Statistics also show an impressive start to this year’s tourism trade. In the six months from January 1st through June 30th, Germany’s hospitality industry logged over 30 million overnight stays. This is a reported 3.2% increase from the same period last year and the third consecutive year figures are rising. Business and tourist travellers from the UK make a significant impact, with numbers up a reported 7.5% since the same period last year.

From royal romance to beer and sausages

Today known as the largest Volkesfest (People’s Fair) in the world, Oktoberfest originated with a party to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen on October 17, 1810.  The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gate, now known as Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow), or Wies’n. The wedding celebrations ended with horse races and it was the decision to repeat the races the following year, which gave birth to the annual event which is now Oktoberfest.

The horse racing ended in 1960, but other events have been added over time. These started in 1811 with an agricultural show to promote Bavarian agriculture; and carnival booths offering prizes of silver, porcelain and jewellery were added in 1816. In 1819 the citizens of Munich took over the management of the festival.

Bratwurst booths arrived in 1881, followed by the first serving of beer in glass mugs in 1892. Today, in order to meet Oktoberfest’s strict standards, beer must conform to a minimum of 13% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) and be brewed within Munich’s city limits. The date has also since been moved forward to September to catch the end of the summer weather.

Ozapft is!

By 1910, when Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th anniversary, 120,000 litres of beer were being poured for the festival’s growing number of revellers and in1913 the largest ever Oktoberfest beer tent, the  Bräurosl, with room for up to 12,000 people, was founded.

Although Oktoberfest has been cancelled a handful of times over the years, typically due to war or an outbreak of disease such as cholera, it continues to go from strength to strength. Since 1950 there has been a traditional festival opening, with a twelve gun salute and the Mayor tapping the first keg of beer with the salute “Ozapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”).

Oktoberfest’s 200th anniversary in 2010 saw the special return of horseracing in historical costumes. A commemorative beer was brewed to serve exclusively in the festival beer tents and a museum tent gave visitors a feel of how the event felt a century ago. Traditional Oktoberfest visitors still wear Bavarian hats called Tirolerhüte, which contain a tuft of goat hair. Goat hair is highly prized in Germany and the more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you were considered to be. In modern times, many people still wear fake goat hats to maintain the tradition.

The tents today

Oktoberfest has changed with the times to now include ‘Gay Days’ on the first Sunday and ‘Quiet Oktoberfest’, where beer tents are kept friendly for older people and families during the daytimes, with only quiet music played until 6pm.

The 420,000 sqm Theresienwiese is 10 times the size of Wembley stadium and offers a selection of decorative tents selling beer, cocktails, savouries, cakes and various wares; along with fairground ride attractions and celebratory events including concerts and parades. Approximately 6,000,000 litres of beer are consumed at Oktoberfest today.

A worldwide attraction

The festival is now such a successful worldwide attraction, Lufthansa airline kicks off the party 30,000 feet in the air. From September 18, flight attendants wear traditional lederhosen and dirndl on select flights between Munich and New York, Chicago and Tokyo. ‘Oktoberfest crew’ is a popular tradition which has been running for a few years and business class passengers are also served Bavarian food and beer on the flights.

This year, even Bayern Munich football team are getting into the spirit by launching and wearing a lederhosen-inspired kit. Fodors.com also cited Munich’s Oktoberfest as one of the ‘14 Best Places to Go This Fall’.

Tourism helps boost recession-proof property market

Tourism is always a key pillar in a country’s economy and events such as Oktoberfest simply boost the already-booming Germany economy even further.

Tourism-led investment is also attracting a lot of positive atention. Savills reports a 155% increase in German hotel room investment alone and forecasts a turnover in German commercial property to hit the €30billion (EURO) mark this year. Germany also currently ranks number two in the top recession-proof property markets, second only to Monaco.

Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, explains: “As an asset class, German property is becoming increasingly attractive. Having avoided the housing boom which occurred in many countries before the crash, the German market has remained on an even keel and values continue to rise at a gradual, yet steady pace.”

The most attractive destination for foreign investors in 2013

He continues: “Germany continues to win accolades for its economy and tourism trade. Now it is also offering excellent returns in the property market. Particularly so in commercial property such as hotel rooms, which take advantage of all these factors combined. It is easy to see why Ernst & Young, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, cite Germany as the most attractive destination for foreign investors in 2013.”

Find out why the Alpen Club in Bavaria is tipped as ‘the investment’ in Bavaria this year and get in touch on +44 1865 202 700 to recession proof your property portfolio with one of the strongest international investments on the market.


Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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