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Cologne boasts record result with 5.98 million overnight stays

Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board, Josef Sommer, Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Kleine Klausing, Director Conventions & Marketing
Tourism has again grown sharply in Cologne, with the number of overnight stays rising to 5.98 million in 2015 for the first time. This figure represents an increase of 4.3 per cent on 2014. In 2015 the share of overnight stays by visitors from outside Germany grew by 6.6 per cent relative to the previous year to 2.08 million. Meanwhile, the number of overnight stays by visitors from Germany increased by 3.2 per cent to 3.90 million. The number of arrivals and overnight stays due to business and leisure activities thus rose to a record level.

“Last year’s steady increase in visitors and continued substantial growth in the number of overnight stays to almost six million underscore the great potential that the tourism industry has for Cologne as a business location,” says Elisabeth Thelen, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Cologne Tourist Board. “The number of overnight stays has doubled since 2000. This development shows how important strategic marketing in cooperation with local and international partners is for the city as a travel destination.” Cologne Tourist Board estimates that tourism generates a gross turnover of €6.6 billion per year.  

The number of overnight stays in Cologne had grown by 5.1 per cent as of November 2015 and was thus in step with the growth in other major German cities such as Berlin (+5.5 per cent), Hamburg (+5.2 per cent) and Munich (+5 per cent). The ten German cities that are organized in the Magic Cities Germany marketing network registered an average increase of 3 per cent during this same period.  

“Cologne continued to do well last year. With the addition of 250,000 overnight stays, we have significantly outperformed our target,” says Josef Sommer, Chief Executive Officer of KölnTourismus GmbH. “Although we will face new challenges in 2016, we are optimistic. According to the travel portal TripAdvisor, Cologne is one of the Top 10 trend travel destinations in Europe this year and the city has lots to offer. We will also focus on new areas and address topics that are off the beaten track.”  

The high visitor numbers have also led to a high occupancy rate at Cologne’s hotels. At 15.6 per cent, Cologne’s RevPAR (revenue per available room) grew at by far the highest rate of any city in Germany.  

Also a record year for the congress and conference market
The positive development is also reflected in Cologne’s congress and conference market. In 2015, a total of 3.76 million people took part in 47,900 events at 166 locations. Despite the unavailability of the Staatenhaus, the number of events increased by 5.3 per cent while the number of participants rose by 3 per cent on the previous year. The share of private industry organizers continued to increase in 2015, rising to 77.8 per cent. The three most important sectors for events remained unchanged: The banking and insurance sector tied in first place with the medical and pharmaceutical industry, followed by the communications business. The IT sector has recently moved into third place, which means it has moved up three places since 2014. Not much has changed with regard to event organizers from the non-profit sector. Private organizers were in first place, followed by social organizations and trade associations. The USA/Canada are increasing in importance among the international markets from which event organizers originate and now hold second place after the new top market, the Netherlands. The UK, which headed the list for years, is now in third place, followed by Belgium. Key events this year will include the International Congress of the International Academy of Pathology, Bio Europe and the Game Developers Conference.  

In keeping with this positive development, Koelnmesse has assessed 2015 as the most successful trade fair year in its history. A repeat study by the Ifo, Institute for Economic Research, showed that the trade fair business safeguards 11,000 jobs in the city and generates 1.11 billion Euro in turnover for Cologne.  

The Lanxess Arena is also reporting record results. The arena operators recorded a total of 1.5 million visitors at 146 major events, making 2015 the best concert year in the venue’s history. As a result, it was able to improve its standing in the global Pollstar Arena Ranking by two notches and is now in seventh place. In 2016 outstanding shows such as those by Adele, The Cure and Justin Bieber as well as international sporting events such as the VELUX EHF FINAL4 will once again attract innumerable visitors to Cologne. Visitor numbers will probably also get a boost from the fact that a musical has been staged in Cologne again since the autumn of last year. Another spotlight event will be the ice hockey world championship in 2017, which will be co-hosted by Cologne and Paris.  

New central theme for 2016/2017
With its new central theme, “#urbanCGN – cologne urban lifestyle”, Cologne Tourist Board will, over the next two years, showcase the city as a creative centre of immersive experiences. In doing so, it will tell stories not found in most tourist guide books and also address niche topics related to fashion, design, festivals, art, culture and music. This will occur in time for ITB at a new corporate blog at and can already be followed today on the hashtag #urbanCGN at all visitkoeln social media channels.

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