Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cycling is booming in Germany

We are neither of us keen shoppers. Maybe it's the Northern English folk memories of the Depression in the 1930s - before our time, but we knew plenty of people who had lived through this. It is difficult to say. However we go to our local shopping centre (mall), Rhein-Neckar-Zentrum most weeks to visit Aldi and Bauhaus, a DIY store. The Zentrum does attempt to draw visitors in by having special exhibitions from time to time. Yesterday we visited an exhibition of the tourist attractions of the city of Schwerin, capital of the federal province of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. One of the principle pillars of this campaign is cycling. The tourist information package for the city comes with a cycle touring map giving suggestions for four cycle tours between 30 and 75 kilometre long and details of a bus service that will carry the tourists' bikes when they do not feel like cycling on.
It would appear in the economic crisis more and more Germans are turning to cycling for holiday and leisure activities. The bicycle touring business is booming. In 2009 in Germany alone cycle tourists generated 22 million overnight stays and spent around 3.87 billion (thousand million) Euros (Deutschen Tourismusverband DTV). The ADFC (German Cycling Club) has noticed that cycle tourism is bucking a declining trend for holiday making in the popular cycling regions and on long distance cycle routes. As an example, hotels on the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route showed a growth in bookings of 13% in 2009 whereas hotel bookings declined in the rest of the Ruhr by 2.5% in the same period. Biking is popular for group, bus, and club excursions, as well as for business and club events. This interest is being matched by the willingness of the local authorities to invest in cycle ways and information. (The top photograph shows a group of tourists relaxing in the town square of Feuchtwangen during on of the celebrations to mark 60 years of the Romantic Road. The lower photograph shows a new information table on the Danube Valley Cycle Way. )
This trend has not gone unnoticed by the organisers of the 36th International Coach Tourism Federation Workshop in Cologne from 27th to 29th July 2010. Its major theme is Cycle Touring. Exhibitors include bus operators, regional tourist authorities and the ADFC.

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