Armin Dellnitz Armin Dellnitz, Managing Director of Stuttgart Marketing GmbH (Photo: Thomas Niedermueller / www.niedermueller.de)

Stuttgart is an important destination in Germany, even if the bulk of its tourism is rather domestic. In 2019, the last “normal” year for tourism, the city recorded 2.1 million travelers and 4.1 million overnight stays, 70% of which were generated by the domestic market. France generated just over 61,000 overnight stays in 2019, being the seventh most important international market for the city. In 2020, Stuttgart had a black year as in the rest of Europe. The capital of Baden Württemberg recorded only 0.86 million tourists and 1.65 million overnight stays. This is due in part to the fact that most trade fairs and congresses, which are a major reason for travellers to visit the city, were cancelled

Do you think that Stuttgart has a good chance of becoming a tourist destination in the post-covid world?

Armin Dellnitz – I am convinced that our tourism industry has a bright future, because I think we offer the perfect product for the tourist of tomorrow. Of course, urban destinations suffer more than natural destinations. The feeling of promiscuity with others, the slower recovery of business tourism explain the slow recovery. However, I think that our position as a big city in the middle of nature favours us. The atmosphere in Stuttgart is rather relaxed and this is an important factor that puts our visitors at ease. Our other advantage is our outstanding cultural offer. It is often said that Stuttgart is the “secret” capital of culture in Germany. Our museums, ballet and theatres are internationally renowned. Finally, I believe that the strength of our economy is a factor in the recovery.

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Did the hotels suffer from the COVID crisis?

Armin Dellnitz: I have to say that although Stuttgart’s hotels suffered, they fared a little better than the rest of Germany. None of them have closed their doors yet. This is due to the fact that the regional government has supported the sector financially, but also because Stuttgart’s hotels have done very well in recent years. This gave them the financial strength to cope with the situation. I think the situation is most difficult now. The financial aid has stopped, the hotels have reopened, but occupancy rates are still low. I think the hotel industry could be back to 50% in the second half of 2021, and maybe even 60% in early 2022.

Are there any new hotel projects?

Armin Dellnitz – Yes, there are a good half-dozen. For example, the fourth hotel in the budget chain Motel One has just opened near the railway station. There are also plans for a 262-room Mövenpick hotel halfway between the airport and the trade fair centre, and the EmiLu hotel,

a 90-room boutique design hotel expected in September. There is also talk of a Premier Inn and a Hampton by Hilton opening before the end of the year. By 2023, we should also welcome a Radisson Blu establishment near the Porsche Design Tower and a Ruby hotel in the city centre. The latter will also offer co-working spaces.

How is the business travel market doing?

Armin Dellnitz – We believe that this will be the market segment with the slowest recovery. This is a real challenge, because more than 70 percent of the travellers in Stuttgart came here for business reasons. The conditions for large conferences and exhibitions remain difficult, as people do not yet feel ready to travel to large events.

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How will the major project “Stuttgart 21” structure the destination Stuttgart?

Armin Dellnitz: This is a huge project that will significantly improve the transport situation in our city. It includes the transformation of our main railway station and improved rail connectivity with the whole of Europe. This project is also the genesis of a brand new city centre district with spectacular sustainable architecture, new green spaces and the construction of a new congress centre directly accessible from the station. Thanks to the presence of new hotels, all attractions and tourist facilities in the city centre will be connected to the central station.