Itchy feet? In the Metropolitan Region the faraway is so close

Hamburg Metropolitan Region – Tourism

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The sector – “Pure relaxation” on the up and up

Tourism in Hamburg Metropolitan Region – a long history of success since the 1980s. Picturesque towns such as Lüneburg or Stade, more than 1,000 years old, are just as popular as the vibrant shopping world of Hamburg. Water plays a decisive role in the region’s tourism business and fascinates visitors – whether it’s the North Sea beach resorts of Cuxhaven or Büsum, port activity in Hamburg or the recreational areas on the Elbe and all the myriad canals and tributaries. This range of opportunities is complemented by unique areas for rest and recuperation. The Lüneburg Heath and Lauenburg lakeland are just two of the many outstanding areas of the region.

More than 140,000 people in Hamburg work directly or indirectly in tourism. This makes the sector the region’s most important employer. Overnight stays have developed very well in recent years. The City of Hamburg contributes to this through its many-faceted world of culture and entertainment. The second strength is day-excursion tourism. Most guests on day trips come from within the Metropolitan Region itself. In the opposite direction, many Hamburgers take off into the region at weekends for excursions to the North or Baltic Sea or into the interior.

Overnight stays

The Metropolitan Region as a whole attracts around 6.8m guests a year, who stay for a total 17m nights. The proportion of visitors from abroad was 12 per cent in 2006 in the Metropolitan Region, and 21.7 per cent in Hamburg.

Overnight stays in Hamburg alone rose by 140 per cent in the past 20 years. In 2007, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg reached a record 7.2m hotel overnight stays.

This ranks Hamburg as number 13 in a comparison of European cities - ahead of capital cities such as Lisbon, Athens, Stockholm or Copenhagen.

Day excursions

But day trips to the Metropolitan Region also play an important role. Hamburg played host to 111 million one-day visitors in 2006, who spent EUR 4.54m during their visits. By far the majority of such visitors come from the Metropolitan Region itself; two out of three from Schleswig-Holstein. The main reason for their visits is to attend events and to sightsee. Apart from that, shopping plays a big role too.

But flows of visitors also go in the opposite direction within Hamburg Metropolitan Region. In 2004, Hamburgers made 12.3m day excursions and one-day business trips into surrounding areas of Schleswig-Holstein or Lower Saxony, which is almost 30 per cent of total day trips made by Hamburgers.

Education, research and development – Close-up on visitors

In a place with such flows of tourists, good training is an important foundation. The Institute for management and tourism at Heide’s West Coast university of applied sciences offers a course in international tourism management at both bachelor and master levels. The institute also makes an important contribution to tourism research, e.g. in tourism niche topics such as culture, wildlife and nature, the over-50s or health care. The work of the respected Kiel-based Institute for tourism and beach resort tourism in northern Europe GmbH also helps to strengthen the fabric of North German tourism.

Leuphana University in Lüneburg follows a comprehensive approach to studies in the faculty of applied cultural studies. The bachelor degree, focusing on development of cultural regions, culture of the built environment and tourism, can be combined with complementary courses from the economics faculty, for example. With a chair of “empirical and applied tourism science”, the university incorporates research expertise that is of national importance, e.g. with the “tourism learning areas” research project.

Business promotion, networks – A living region

The expert working party on tourism in Hamburg Metropolitan Region has ensured long-standing cooperation in the Metropolitan Region. Important past projects were joint development of a cycling and horse-riding network and the new tourism portal, which Internet users can use to access information on inter-state tourism destinations and events.

Twenty-three partners in the Lower Elbe Maritime Landscape tourism lead project are working together to preserve the maritime culture of the Lower Elbe and to maximise its potential for sustainable local recreation and tourism development in the Metropolitan Region. Upstream, eleven local authorities have formed the Elbe glacial valley regional cooperation group, which is working to develop this interesting holiday area touristically, culturally and economically.

The metropolcard, which was introduced in this form at the beginning of 2007, is designed as an attractive "leisure discount card for the Hamburg Metropolitan Region”, which can be used both by residents of the metropolitan area to explore their region, and by visitors who have the opportunity to discover the varied features of the Metropolitan Region.

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