Digitalization and Taxes: Exclusive Interview with the Economic Advisor of Germany's Hotel Association.
Friday, 7th March 2014
Source : Luigi Serenelli ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
The Hotel sector in Germany face new challenges: a growing online and mobile market sector and the competition from low costs budget offers from providers.

These changes can be summarized in one word: digitalization. Beside the new trends, there have been a series local authority decisions that have led to taxes being imposed on tourists.

Economic advisor for the German Hotel Association, Tobias Warnecke, speaks to 4Hoteliers.com exclusively about what's happening now and next for Germany's hotel industry. 

What are the recent trends for the hotel industry in Germany?

We see that there are some global trends in the hotel industry in Germany and all over Europe. We have some big moves in the online marketing sector. Mobile is a big issue and another big new market sector. Other things with digitalization and digital movements in the industry are quite important for the hotel sector. We also see that a trend for budget or low cost accommodation is a growing sector in Germany.

How is the competition for example with Airbnb?

We see that Airbnb and companies like 9flats or Wimdu are players in the market and they are strong in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich or Cologne. But in the whole Germany, it is not such a big sector. Of course all these providers related to the sharing economy are part of a social trend and the hotel sector has to face this trend.

How is the competition with other countries, for example a neighbour like France?

I don't think there is a real competition: I mean when you have a traveler he decides to go to Germany or he decides to go to France. It is the decision of the traveller where does he want to stay and to have the holiday or his overnight stay. I think there is no competition between countries or the hotels. Of course there is competition when you look at great conferences. A city like Berlin is in competition with a city like London or Paris where the congress or big fairs take place but it is not the hotel sector itself that is competition.

Where in Germany are there most requests for hotels from tourists?

We have in Germany two sides: on one side there are big cities, where tourism is growing. Berlin, for example, has really high, high growth rates. Then we see the Alps region, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, are strong tourist regions and of course, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea regions, there, the main traffic is in the holiday times.  

How have the most recent decisions to impose taxes on beds and dogs for tourists affected the market?

In a couple of cities we have so called bed taxes, and the leisure tourists, not the business guests, have to be charged of a special fee, the so-called city tax. Of course for us, for the German Hotel Association, this point is not ok. It is bad for tourism when a city or a region is burdened by such taxes. We don't think that this is legal.

Do you think that these rules should be changed?

During the last year we have taken the legislations of four cities to court aiming for an elimination of them.  At the moment we are waiting for the verdicts.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryLuigi Serenelli is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. He has previously worked for local and national publications on society and politics in Naples and Rome, Italy and now works with journalists across the globe as part of the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Luigi has spent a large part of the last 10 years abroad and whenever possible he boards a train for long distance journeys.

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