With more than 6 million tourists
in the first 11 months of 2014 - a significant increase on the previous year - tourism in the Bavarian capital of Munich is booming, and Digital Journal met and interviewed Munich Tourist Board director Geraldine Knudson on January 16, 2015, to find out more.
Home to the world-famous Oktoberfest, perhaps the city's defining international brand, Munich is a modern, hi-tech city which is steeped in tradition. Located just an hour away from the Alps and the winter tourism opportunities that this avails, it has become a year-round tourism city with a very diverse offer.
Munich is perhaps best known for the Oktoberfest. Are you happy with the international branding of the city, and how is the branding changing?
Of course we are happy. Any tourist destination would be happy with such a unique selling point. The Munich Oktoberfest is the original, the 'one and only', even if there are lots of imitation festivals around the world. Munich is well known for the Oktoberfest, but 'well-known' does not automatically mean that people find it reason enough to decide on a trip to Munich.
Modern tourists love trips to cities, and they expect a wide range of cultural, creative and first-class offers and great experiences. Looking ahead, we will put more emphasis on the cultural riches of the city.
Can you tell us a little more about the Tourism Initiative Munich Project?
München Tourismus is organisationally assigned to the Department of Labour and Economic Development of the City of Munich. Together with its partners from the private business sector, the Tourismusinitiative München TIM e.V., München Tourismus develops marketing and PR activities as well as touristic products to position the destination Munich as a leader among its international competitors and to promote tourism to Munich. The strategic focus is determined by the Munich Tourism Commission, a joint board of the city council and the local tourism industry.
Munich is a very modern city with rich culture and traditions. How do you blend the two for successful tourism?
We use this attractive mixture to inspire visitors to come to Munich. Modern travellers love authentic places and Munich is rich in palaces, buildings, squares and architecture that tell the most interesting stories of the time when Munich was once the capital of a kingdom. The great Munich appeal lies in the combination of both tradition and the metropolitan character of contemporary Munich, where trends are set and where people can find a large selection of hip and trendy events and locations all year around.
One special aspect of tradition in Munich is inviting all visitors to participate in the life of the city, as is shown for example in the local beer gardens, beer hall restaurants and on the occasion of the Oktoberfest, where locals and guests sit side by side. There is no parallel universe in Munich for tourists. This is the aspect that positively distinguishes us from other European cities.
Munich is already a successful year-round tourism city. What specific initiatives are you working on to make things even better in 2015?
We are currently working on a relaunch of our online activities, on a new Corporate Design for München Tourismus, on an orientation system for visitors and on a new Congress strategy to make Munich one of the leading international cities for Congresses and Meetings.
You are now in the second year of a demanding job. Are you enjoying it, and how is the job different from your preconceptions before taking it?
This is very easy to answer. The job is really great and just as I had imagined it. I have loved it from the very start not least because of my nice and competent staff, but also because Munich is such a livable and lovable city.
And finally, where does a busy tourist board director go to relax in the city? Can you tell us a little about some of your favourite spots in Munich?
With the little free time I have available I like to go for a Cappuccino in a little Italian-style bar around the corner where I always meet someone for a chat. With more time, I like to relax with jogging or yoga. The beautiful scenery of the English Garden, along the River Isar or the park of Nymphenburg Castle makes you almost forget the fatigue.