Cologne Tourism Achieves Pre-Pandemic Levels with Record Growth in 2023

In 2023, Cologne witnessed a significant surge in tourism, with over 3.8 million guests and 6.6 million overnight stays recorded.

This remarkable growth marks a 20.4% increase in guests and a 17% rise in overnight stays compared to 2022, bringing tourism back to its 2019 peak.

Max Derichsweiler, Chairman of the Cologne Tourist Board, expressed satisfaction with the qualitative and quantitative development of Cologne’s tourism. He attributed this success to the strategic efforts of the Cologne Tourist Board in making Cologne an appealing destination for various target groups.

The most important source market is still Germany, which accounts for 66.6 per cent of the total overnight stays. The most important foreign market is the Netherlands, followed by the UK.

The growth of supply in the hotel industry also developed favourably. The number of available hotel beds in Cologne was 37,616 in 2023 — 4.3 per cent more than in 2022.

The MICE market (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events), which registered an increased average number of participants per event, is demonstrating the structural change in business travel. Another significant increase is expected for 2024 as a result of the opening of Confex. The operator and marketer Koelncongress has already received numerous bookings for the multifunctional convention and event venue, which has a capacity of more than 6,000 people on the Koelnmesse exhibition grounds.

Fruits of a Robust Tourism Strategy in Cologne

Cologne’s tourism thrives not just in numbers but also in quality, a testament to the strategic efforts of the Cologne Tourist Board in defining and attracting specific visitor segments. The city stands out with a higher rate of cultural event-driven visits than other renowned Magic Cities and nearly matched its pre-pandemic tourism revenue of €5.24 billion in 2023, despite global challenges. The hospitality sector has seen a return to pre-crisis spending levels, propelled by leisure tourism, with Cologne’s luxury hotels leading in revenue growth. A Brand Trust study further affirms the strength of Cologne’s tourism brand over competitors.

Dr. Jürgen Amann, CEO of the Cologne Tourist Board, celebrates the rising trend and the marked improvement in tourism quality, crediting the collaborative efforts of his team and city partners. The effective tourism strategy is yielding tangible benefits, fulfilling for all involved.

Looking Ahead: Digital Advances and New Initiatives for 2024

The Cologne Tourist Board is set to continue its digital transformation journey, enhancing both internal operations and visitor engagements. Key initiatives include advancing the VisitKölnGPT AI solution, enriching the Data Hub NRW with structured tourist information, and launching new hybrid and digital products to appeal to targeted visitor interests. The transformation of the Tourist Info into a digital-centric hub aims to enhance visitor consultations, complemented by the reopening of a historic gallery offering cathedral views, timed perfectly for the European Football Championship.

Dr. Amann emphasizes the ongoing digitization efforts and the commitment to enriching the Cologne brand and experience for both tourists and locals. Through collaboration with local experts and communities, the aim is to craft authentic Cologne experiences that resonate with visitors and city residents alike, underscoring the city’s commitment to quality and innovation in tourism.

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