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2014 a record year for tourism development in Cologne

Cologne, the cathedral city, experienced a real tourism boom in 2014. A total of 3.33 million hotel guests came to Cologne in the course of the year, accounting for 5.74 million overnight stays in total. These figures represent high increases of 12.4 per cent for arrivals and 13 per cent for overnight stays. There were significant increases for visitors from Germany as well as visitors from abroad. As a result, the approximately 32,000 beds in Cologne's more than 300 hotels and other accommodation facilities were booked to 48.7 per cent of capacity.

As of November 2014, Cologne recorded a 12.2 per cent increase in overnight stays – a figure that makes it the undisputed leader among Germany's major cities. "The growth in overnight stays is more dynamic in Cologne than in any other major German city," said Elizabeth Thelen, who chairs the Supervisory Board of the Cologne Tourist Board. "The increase in Berlin was 6.2 percent – in other words, only half as great. This shows that Cologne, with its strong trade fairs and congresses, its outstanding cultural attractions and its events during every season of the year, is attractive all year round for business visitors as well as tourists who come here in their leisure time."  

Cologne continues to be in the upper fourth of the list of the 100 most popular destinations among European cities. "Once again, Cologne was equally popular with business and leisure travelers," explained Josef Sommer, the Chief Executive Officer of the Cologne Tourist Board. "Participants of trade fairs and congresses, as well as other business travelers, account for well over 50 per cent of the overnight stays in Cologne hotels. But Cologne has also been equally popular as a destination for leisure guests, especially during the Christmas markets in December. This is a tremendous advantage in market terms, because it means a balanced influx of visitors throughout the year."

Overnight stays by visitors from abroad accounted for 34 per cent of the total volume in 2014. The largest contingents came from the UK (242,827, an increase of 15.3 per cent), the USA (174,073, an increase of 9.9 per cent) and the Netherlands (172,594, an increase of 7 per cent), followed by Belgium (100,286, an increase of 8.8 per cent) and Switzerland (97,447, an increase of 12 per cent). Other especially notable increases were posted for visitors from China (78,889, an increase of 30.8 per cent), Poland (41,462, an increase of 25.1 per cent) and the Arabian Gulf states (40,094, an increase of 11.4 per cent). The guests from the Arabian Gulf states stayed in Cologne the longest: 2.9 days on average. At 1.7 days, the average length of stay for all visitors stayed the same as it was in the previous year. From a long-term perspective ranging from 2000 to 2014, several markets showed especially dynamic development. During this period, overnight stays by visitors from China increased by a factor of six, and they more than quadrupled for visitors from the Arabian Gulf states. The volume of overnight stays by guests from Brazil and India more than tripled. The figures for visitors from India have only been collated since 2006.

Approximately 45,500 events with a total of 3.65 million participants were held in Cologne in 2014. By comparison with the prior year, the number of participants increased by 2.5 per cent, in spite of the fact that the number of events remained roughly the same, as 2014 was an off-year for important trade fairs that are held every two years. The increase was primarily due to events held in conference hotels and event venues. A total of 165 conference and event facilities were available in Cologne in 2014. Of these, 20 were event centres, 54 were conference hotels and 91 were other event venues. The proportion of event organizers from the business sector increased in 2014. Cologne relies on continuity in terms of the sectors that organize business events here. The rankings on the list remained identical to those of the previous year, with banks and insurance companies on top, followed by the medical and pharmaceutical sector and media companies. In the nonprofit sector, business associations once again increased the number of their events in Cologne. They now occupy second place behind private event organizers. The most important international source market of organizers for events in Cologne is the UK, which has occupied the top spot for years, followed by the Netherlands, Switzerland, the USA, France and Belgium.  

The list of this year's events in Cologne once again offers numerous highlights in the areas of music, sports and entertainment. A special event with an appeal reaching far beyond the city will be the reopening of the extensively renovated complex of the “Bühnen der Stadt Köln” (stages of Cologne) in November. The cathedral city will then have one of the most advanced theatre and opera locations in Europe.

The Lanxess arena expects 2015 to be the best concert year in its history. On the agenda are a number of shows for which Cologne will be the exclusive German venue, such as those of Taylor Swift and Fleetwood Mac. It will also feature major events that only take place in Cologne, such as the new eSport event ESL One Cologne 2015. Many guests will also be attracted to Cologne by events held in the RheinEnergieStadion, such as concerts by Helene Fischer and AC/DC and the football match between the German national team and the USA. It is especially worth noting that starting in mid-2015 Cologne will once again be a venue for musicals and will celebrate the premiere of the long-running award-winning musical "Bodyguard" in November.

The new CONFEX centre for conferences and exhibitions, which is being planned as part of the Koelnmesse 3.0 investment programme, is expected to open up new opportunities for Cologne in the conference business starting in 2020. The liberalization of the long-distance bus market has also generated a great impact on Cologne. The Cologne Tourist Board is calling for an additional centrally located city terminal in addition to the new bus terminal at the airport. And in order to ensure that Cologne continues to profit from the river cruise business, the condition of the city's docks and approaches to the city centre should be improved.

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