Tourism and Hospitality

Tourism and Hospitality

A Place for Business and Pleasure

Industry Overview

Travel has become a way of life in Germany. Whether on the job or on vacation, Germans are constantly on the go, as they may very well be. Germany hosts 38 UNESCO world heritage sites and ranked 2nd in the World Economic Forum's 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report behind Switzerland. Germany performed especially well in the fields of Ground, Air, and ICT Infrastructure, Cultural Resources, Health + Hygiene and Environmental Sustainability. Germany is, therefore, set up to provide first class travel opportunities to both domestic and international visitors while simultaneously constituting an extremely attractive market for providers of travel and tourism services.

Our Industry in Numbers

Hospitality in 2013

  • Around 225,000 businesses generated EUR 69.6 billion in revenue (DEHOGA, 2014).
  • The food service and catering sector accounted for EUR 38.6 billion in sales, and the hotel and accommodation industry for EUR 24.1 billion, respectively.
  • With 1.8 million employees, the hospitality sector is an important industry for the German economy.

Tourism in 2013

  • Tourism related spendings reached EUR 278 billion in 2013, whereas 87% arise from domestic demand.
  • Germany is 2nd most popular travel destination in Europe after Spain.
  • Germans spent EUR 65.3 billion on trips abroad, while it earned EUR 29.7 billion by international travelers (DZT, 2014).

Business Travel in 2013

  • 10 million German business travelers took 171.1 million trips and spent a total of 48.2 billion Euros in Germany.
  • Average daily expenditures for business travels reached EUR 148, total average costs per business trip amounted to EUR 310 (VDR).
  • Germany is the most popular trade fair and congress destination in Europe and ranks 2nd worldwide.
  • 14.7 billion international business travelers spent 36.6 billion EUR in Germany in 2013 (DZT 2014).

Market Potential

Hospitality Industries - Restaurants and Hotels

According to the German hotel and restaurant association DEHOGA, consumers in Germany are becoming ''choosier'' when looking for a place to dine and/or stay. As many businesses and private consumers curb spending, they search for ''added value'' to make the investment in hospitality and travel services worthwhile.

When choosing a restaurant, today's consumers are looking for coziness and quality service, but they are also interested in new experiences. The latest trends include organic or regional foods, light international dining, upscale fast food, takeout meals and event catering. Consumers place great value on a uniquely stylish and homey atmosphere with attentive, genuinely hospitable personnel. Meals are expected to be fresh, high-quality and attractively presented.Open kitchens enjoy growing popularity.

While looking for hotels, consumers generally make their decisions based on affordability, reliability, memorability and specialization. As a result, hotels competing on a cost, brand name or design basis. Health, fitness and age group related products are growing in popularity. Also, the luxury hotel sector is on the upswing, e.g. in Berlin, several 5-star hotels have opened in recent years.

According to the German National Tourist Board's 2011 survey, German hotels can also compete internationally on the basis of affordability. The average prices for hotels in Germany is EUR 94 per night. In comparison to the EU-average of EUR 101, Germany remains very reasonably priced. To access the complete Incoming Tourism Germany survey results, please click on the download link available on the right.


The German travel and tourism markets possess tremendous potential for both tour operators and travel agencies. Germans are known for their ''travel bug,'' whether on vacation or in the office, and they spend plenty of time on both domestic and international trips. As the statistical office of the European Union EUROSTAT reports, Germany is the biggest domestic tourism market within Europe with an average of four nights that a German annually spends in German hotels. A third of Germans holiday trips longer than 5 days are spent within Germany. In contrast, 70% of all longer holidays are spent abroad, with the Mediterranean Sea as the most popular destination (DZT, 2014). In 2013, almost a third of all vacation trips longer than 5 days were booked online, demonstrating that German tourists are also easily accessible for international tourism and travel providers (VIR, 2013).

As a tourist destination, Germany has made a name for itself around the globe. The most international visitors in 2013 came from the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy. A few German travel locations remain of particular interest to tourists from all over the world. In 2013, for example, international and domestic travelers alike spent the most time in the well-known tourist destinations of Bavaria, Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse. The top five city-destinations for all tourists in 2013 were Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Cologne (DTZ, 2014).

Business Travel

Germany is the biggest business travel market in Europe (Global Business Travel Association 2014). The business travel sector composes an attractive subsector of the travel industry. Most companies (with or without TMS) use at least online portals and stationary travel agencies to plan and book business travels, depending on the complexity and required flexibility of travels (VDR 2014). Also, the sheer volume of this market makes it equally interesting for both domestic and foreign travel service providers. The VDR reports that 10 million German business travelers took a total of 171.1 million trips amounting to EUR 48.2 billion in 2013. The average trip was 2.1 days in length and cost EUR 310. In 2013, German business travelers spent 44.8 million nights in hotels in Germany and 16.6 million nights abroad. The fact that 91% of those nights were spent in midscale and upper midscale- hotels indicates the market potential for this type of accommodation (VDR 2014).

Market Access

Although there are no general provisions for cross border distribution of services, it will most likely require proximity to the market and thus the establishment of local branch offices or subsidiaries, in order to become active in the German hospitalities and tourism markets. For a first impression of the general requirements entrepreneurs need to fulfill in order to do business in Germany, please refer to the online Investment Guide available from Germany Trade & Invest.

In addition to the usual registration formalities, German dining establishments and hotels will also need to apply for a special permit, if they intend to serve alcoholic beverages. Such businesses must also pay special attention to the laws protecting juveniles and non-smokers as well as food quality/restaurant cleanliness.

German travel agencies and travel service providers also belong to the trades requiring special approval before they can commence work in Germany. For more information, please refer to our section on Service Occupations. Please note: these rules do not apply to EU service providers who only offer their services for a limited time (less than 6 months out of the year) and irregularly.

Your local Chamber of Industry and Commerce can advise on all the local requirements for doing business in your particular region within Germany as well as on legal requirements which apply to your business.

POINTS OF SINGLE CONTACT - Service providers from EU Member States may address their local Points of Single Contact for support with the administrative procedures that need to be observed before entering the German market. More information is available in our section ''EU Service Market''.

Finding Providers

When looking for travel agents, travel service providers or information on travel destinations within Germany, you may want to consult the following online resources:

  • DRV - Travel Services Providers' Database (German Only) 
  • German National Tourist Board

You may also wish to visit the travel industry's largest yearly trade show, ITB-Berlin, where more than 10,000 exhibitors from almost 200 countries offer their travel services to over 170,000 visitors.

Supporting Institutions

The Association of Online Travel Agencies (Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V.) is a voluntary trade association in the German internet tourism sector. It works with companies and consumers to establish quality and security standards for doing business with online travel agencies and performs market research on new developments in the sector.

The FUR - Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen e.V. was founded in 1994 as a non-profit research foundation for vacationing and travel. FUR publishes the yearly ''Reiseanalyse'' - a survey of the holiday travel behaviour of the German population, their travel related attitudes, motivations and interests.

The German Business Travel Association (Verband Deutsches Reisemanagement e.V. - VDR) represents the interests of the German business sector and promotes constant professionalization and the use of modern and innovative travel management methods among its approx. 550 members.

The German Convention Bureau is a central contact for planning congresses, conferences and meetings in Germany. It has about 200 members representing approx. 400 convention related businesses and provides an online location search as well as planning services.

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Deutscher Hotel- und Gaststättenverband - DEHOGA) is the trade organization of the German Hotel and Catering industries. It represents the political interests of more than 75,000 members and their businesses as well as bundling marketing activities for the sector.

The German Hotel Association (Hotelverband Deutschland e.V. - IHA) is the national trade association for the hotel industry. It represents more than 1,400 hotels in Germany and provides a variety of informational services for its members.

The German National Tourist Board (Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V. - DZT) has worked in cooperation with the Federal Government  to promote tourism in Germany for over 60 years. It markets travel to and within Germany all over the world. The German National Tourist Board works in close cooperation and economic partnership with all levels of the tourism industry in Germany.

The German Travel Association (Deutscher ReiseVerband - DRV) represents the interests of tour operators, travel agencies, suppliers of individual services in the travel industry as well as international tourist boards in political and business circles inside and outside Germany. It informs about the advantages of tour operator travel and the professional travel industry.


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