Tourism & Leisure

Beach chairs | © Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus/

Tourism & Leisure

A Place for Business and Pleasure

Travel has become a way of life in Germany. Whether on the job or on vacation, Germans are constantly on the go. Likewise, Germany itself has become increasingly popular as a vacation site – not only for foreign, but also among native Germans. The diverse landscape, the manifold opportunities for leisure and sports activities, cultural sites, events of international importance as well as fascinating cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Hamburg, or Munich, attract tourists from all around the globe.

Germany’s rise as a tourist destination is confirmed by various rankings. For example, it was awarded the third place in the World Economic Forum's 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report behind Spain and France. Germany performed especially well in the areas of Health & Hygiene, Human Resources and Labor Market, Cultural Resources and Business Travel, of Ground and Port Infrastructure, and Environmental Sustainability.

All in all, Germany offers first class travel opportunities to both domestic and international visitors and it constitutes an extremely attractive market for providers of travel and tourism services.

Markets Germany | Issue 01/2018 - The Leisure Boom

The blue lagoon at Tropical Island Berlin, a vast climate-controlled dome which has been basking in its own success since 2004.| © Dagmar Schwelle/laif The Leisure Boom

Germany is flying the flag as the most popular destination for city breaks, reinforcing its strong position in the international tourism market. The trend is driven by bookings from European culture vultures and young people. More

Our Industry in Numbers

  • In 2016, Germans spent a total of EUR 144 billion for leisure time, entertainment and culture.
  • A gross value added of more than EUR 105 billion, make Germany one of the largest tourism markets in Europe.
  • The German hotel and accommodations sector recorded 447 million overnight stays by national and foreign guests in 2016, an increase of 2.5% compared to 2015.
  • Germans spent EUR 73.2 billion in 2016 on trips abroad.
  • In addition, Germany earned EUR 33.8 billion from incoming tourism in 2016.
  • The number of overnight stays by foreign guests increased in the year 2016 by 1.4% to reach 80.8 million.
  • With 2.5 million cruise passengers on rivers and seas in 2016 this market doubled in less than 10 years

Tourism Hotspots in Germany

As a tourist destination, Germany has made a name for itself around the globe. The most international visitors in 2016 came from the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Austria. Certain destinations within Germany remain of particular interest to tourists from all over the world. In 2016, international and domestic travelers alike spent the most time in the well-known tourist destinations of Bavaria, Berlin, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. The top five city-destinations for all tourists were Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, and Cologne.

Market Potential

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. According to Eurostat, Germany is the biggest domestic tourism market within Europe with an average of four nights that a German annually spends in German hotels. In 2016, 70% of their trips lasting longer than 5 days led Germans to destinations outside Germany. During these travels, they spent EUR 73.2 billion, more than on national trips. Almost a third of all vacation trips lasted longer than 5 days and 38% were booked online, demonstrating that German tourists are also easily accessible for international tourism and travel providers.

The business travel sector composes an attractive subsector of the travel industry: The sheer volume of this market of EUR 50.9 billion makes it equally interesting for both domestic and foreign travel service providers. In 2015, around 11 million German business travelers took a total of 182.7 million individual trips in total. Thereby, they spent around 49.5 million nights in hotels in Germany and around 18 million nights abroad.

While looking for hotels, consumers generally make their decisions based on affordability, reliability, memorability and specialization. As a result, hotels are competing on a cost, brand or design basis. Health, fitness and age group related products are growing in popularity. Also, the luxury hotel sector is on the upswing, as evidenced e.g. by the opening of several new 5-star hotels in Berlin and other German cities in the past years.

Attractive Environment for Investments

As far as competitiveness as a travel and tourism site is concerned, Germany occupies a prominent position on the international stage. Only Spain and France have a comparably advanced infrastructure for tourism and travel. This was recently substantiated by the 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, which analyzed competitiveness in the tourism sectors of 136 countries. Germany owes its top placement to – above all – its unique offer of cultural resources and business travel, combined with excellent connectivity, tourist service infrastructure and a strong labor market.

Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017: Europe*

CountryRanking of European CountriesRanking among 136 Countries
The Netherlands917

* Source: The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017


Germany offers numerous incentives for all investors - regardless of whether they are from Germany or otherwise. There is a large selection of programs designed to support a wide variety of business activities at different stages of the investment process available. Support ranges from cash incentives for the reimbursement of direct investment costs to incentives for labor and research and development (R&D).


Daniel Lindel Daniel Lindel | © GTAI

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Daniel Lindel

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Cover Study Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: Tourism as a driver of economic growt in Germany | © Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy


Tourism as a driver of economic growth - Key indicators for a cross-cutting industry. More [pdf]

Logo GNTB | © The German National Tourist Board

German National Tourist Board