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Saudi Riches Boost the Healthy German Economy through Spa Hotels and Luxury Shopping

October 10, 2013Article by Ray Withers

Germany is in the press again for all the right reasons.  International tourism continues to rise steadily, with Germany’s hotels and hostels now enjoying continuous growth for three straight years [source: the German Federal Bureau of Statistics].

The German tourism industry turns over €280 billion per year and employs a staggering 2.9 million people. Hospitality industry experts expect this to continue and cite business and tourism travellers from the UK as being most responsible for the ongoing upsurge.

According to the German National Tourism Board (GNTB), Germany’s advantageous position comes primarily from its wide range of cultural sights and events, all within easy access for visitors from around the globe. One such event is the world famous Oktoberfest, which attracts over 6 million annual visitors.

The rich list

The number of visitors from Saudi Arabia is now increasing in line with travellers from the UK. Germany ranks in the top two travel destinations for Saudi tourists (at 22% and 23%). Other countries high on the list include the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA, along with the Gulf States.

The increase in Saudi and Gulf trade is attributed to both business travel and tourism.  According to figures from the German embassy in Riyadh, about 450,000 visitors from the Gulf States had arrived at German airports during the first six months of 2013. This is a reported 30% increase from the year before.

Tax-free retail on the rise

There is also an uptake in Middle Eastern tax-free shopping across Germany’s retail sectors. According to Global Blue (the world’s largest service provider in VAT refunds), Middle Eastern shoppers, at an average of 308 euro per purchase, are up 25% in the past year. Their favourite shopping destination is Munich and most-popular items were clothing, department store goods, watches and jewellery.

Chinese visitors top the list at 610 euro per purchase, with over half the turnover coming from jewellery and watches, followed by clothing, leather goods and travel accessories. Russian travellers come second with 337 euro per purchase.

Petra Hedorfer, chief executive of the German National Tourism Board (GNTB), explains: “Because of the excellent price / performance ratio, Germany has a very good reputation as a shopping destination. According to a recent Quality Monitor survey, 11% of our foreign guests come to Germany for shopping.”

Bavarian spa resorts top the trend

An upsurge in luxury hotel trade has also been noted in certain areas. Bavaria, with its beautiful landscapes and historic cities, is already popular for its ski and winter sports resorts. Now the region is enjoying a new trend by attracting Saudi travellers seeking modern wellness spa breaks in luxury hotels.

The GNTB says it is “focused on promoting the region as a winter destination.”

World’s safest travel destination

The appeal of Germany, for both business and pleasure, is apparent. It offers state-of-the-art automobile technology (Porsche, Mercedes Benz and BMW); museums, art, architecture; and some of Europe’s most stunning natural landscapes and scenery, with around 38 places on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Plus, along with its robust economy, high standard of living and booming tourism and property markets, the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Reports rate Germany as the safest worldwide destination for travellers.

Following in royal footsteps

Next in line is for German tourism is the German National Tourist Office’s new royal website, ‘The British German Royal Heritage Route.’ Launched to coincide with next 2014’s 300th anniversary if the Hanoverian accession to the thrones of the UK and Ireland, the new holiday route and travel website enables visitors and enthusiasts of all things royal to trace the footsteps of British monarchs in Germany, a heritage which dates from the first Georgians in 1714 to the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Make a healthy investment for a royal return

Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, comments: “Germany continues to lead in economic recovery through tourism and Bavaria continues to be ‘the’ destination for hospitality and tourism investment in 2013. Now, with the uptake in wellness retreats and spa breaks along with the GNTB’s push on the area as a winter destination, it looks like this is set to continue well into next year.”

AlpenClub in Bavaria is one of the hotel resorts to benefit from this ongoing boom. Situated in the Bavarian Alps, just 50km from Munich, AlpenClub offers proximity to a wealth of ski resorts and  also has its own Asian-inspired spa, offering a wide range of health and wellness treatments, in a luxury hotel setting.

Get in touch on +44 1865 202 700 to find out how to invest in the healthiest sector of the German market in 2013.


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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