German Travel’s Impact on Indian Country

Written by Ron Erdmann, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO)

It’s time to re-energize the tried and true German travel market. Are Indian Country’s unique travelers the key to doing that?

Many in the tourism industry may consider Germany one of the most reliable travel markets to the U.S. – in fact, from 1999-2011, Germany was ranked as the fourth strongest market for overseas visitors to the U.S. During those same years, Germany was the second strongest market with an interest in Indian Country. 

However, since 2011, German travel to the U.S. has only grown by 25% (2011 vs. 2015).  This is the slowest growth among the top six countries generating travelers to Native American sites.  German travel to Indian Country has grown only 11% since 2011, also the slowest growth among the top markets.  Compared to very strong growth in other markets for Indian Country, Germany’s slow growth dropped it to 6th place in 2013 and 2015.  In 2014, it was 4th.

129,000 German travelers to the U.S. also visited Native American sites while they were here in 2015.  These visitors differ greatly from the average German traveler to the country, and it’s these differences that could re-energize this market moving forward. 

Here is some market intel from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) you might find useful in exciting and engaging your colleagues to focus on bringing Germans back to Indian Country. 

As with any mature market, travelers need to know there are new products and unique experiences available.  Enlisting tribes that may not have previously focused on Germany may be one way to stimulate this market.  Businesses interested in German travelers who want to visit Native American sites must make content available through the top information sources Germans use.  These include airlines, online travel agents, travel agencies and travel guides.  It is also extremely important for tribal businesses to provide quality experiences to these visitors as personal recommendations by friends and relatives are used by 35% of Germans to Indian Country.  Because Germans looking for tribal experiences use more information sources than do average German travelers, Indian Country businesses should heavily focus efforts on these sources.  Furthermore, because they are looking at multiple trip planning resources, they use 45 days more to plan their trips than the average German to the USA.  Getting your message out early is critical to enticing Germans to visit. 

When developing an itinerary to excite German travelers, cooperation is also key.  Germans to Indian Country visit over four places while in the U.S., almost double that of the average German.  As a result, they also stay longer to visit these additional destinations (29 days vs. 19 days), and they tend to be leisure travelers.  Each of these variables provides an incentive for non-Native businesses to work with you as they, too, want longer stays and mobile visitors.  German Indian Country visitors tend to rent cars more often and take another domestic flight while in the USA in order to reach the four -plus places they visit.  It is important that Indian Country businesses work with these two transportation sectors to develop ways to get travelers to use their services so they can experience all that’s available. 

Two other groups tribal businesses should be working with are state tourism offices and city convention and visitors bureaus.  These organizations are very active in promoting international travel to their destinations and you could be part of their offerings.  This is important because only 6% of all Germans traveling to the U.S. visit Indian Country.  

Because German leisure travelers who visit Native American sites stay longer and are more mobile, they also tend to do far more than the average German traveler to the U.S.  Apart from shopping and sightseeing, the top activities for Germans to Indian Country are visiting national parks, small towns/countryside, historic locations, cultural/ethnic heritage sites, taking guided tours and touring art galleries/museums.  If you work collaboratively with representatives of these activity segments, everyone can benefit because you will be creating a more enticing experience that could extend the visitors’ trips, encourage broader participation in the activities available, and generate more income for the destinations. 

By using the information contained in this article to approach the businesses involved in these activities, and encouraging them to collaborate and coordinate with you in providing a quality experience for German travelers, all of you will benefit, and German travelers will return home to share their positive experiences with friends and relatives. 

For further information on the research data available and to become more engaged in the German market to this country, contact AIANTA, NTTO and/or your local U.S. Export Assistance Center staff. 

Everyone is here to help you be more successful in the international travel market.  

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Native American Agriculture Fund

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Bureau of Land Management

National Endowment of the Arts

National Park Service

United States Forest Service