Hamburg; The Next Destination.

Michael Otremba, Managing Director Hamburg Tourist Board & Hamburg Marketing gives us the inside scoop as to why Hamburg is THE next destination. Check out why everyone has Hamburg on their bucket list.

Can you tell us a little bit about Hamburg Tourism?

The Hamburg Tourist Board is a public-private partnership and one of Europe’s most successful and innovative destination marketing organizations. We not only market Germany’s second largest city as a tourist destination; we are also a sales agent, serve as tour operator, handle hotel bookings, and ticket sales, primarily through our online and e-commerce platforms.

As a successful destination management company, we also see it as our responsibility to assure the high quality of life for our citizens as much as the best tourism experience for our visitors. Sustainability and the development of a high-quality tourism product remain at the center of our work.

When people think of cruising, Hamburg is not necessarily the first destination that comes to mind. What makes Hamburg such a special destination for cruisers?

What makes Hamburg unique is the fact that the harbour is very close to the city centre. Where else can cruise passengers walk from the ship to world-class shopping, sights and culture? Our harbour is really the heart and soul of our city. Hamburg’s residents fondly associate cruise ships with a sense of longing and wanderlust, and more often than not, will line the banks of the Elbe river to greet cruise liners approaching the harbour. In our city, cruise ships are part of the cityscape and the urban experience. And as more and more cruise enthusiasts arrive in Hamburg, our city’s maritime identity is continuously flourishing. Shipping companies and passengers feel that Hamburg is a place to arrive. No other cruise port has such a pronounced welcoming culture and offers such an authentic stage for shipping companies to present modern seafaring.

Hamburg is probably the world's number 1 destination for maritime entertainment and cruise events: the city is home to the world’s largest public port festival, the Hamburg Cruise Days, which happens every two years. This year, 12 cruise liners are participating and hundreds of thousands of cruise enthusiasts will be gathering at the Elbe quays to enjoy the one-of-a-kind celebration of cruise lining.

Sustainability is a big attraction when it comes to where cruise lines are picking their destinations.  What is Hamburg Tourism doing to ensure that they are running a sustainable destination and port?

Eight years ago, Hamburg was voted European Green Capital which really kick-started our efforts to guarantee sustainable tourism development, both ecological as well as community related. Examples are our certification as a Fair Trade City, ground breaking mobility concepts with Hamburg’s extensice public transportation system, effective inner-city visitor flow, and environmentally responsible events. For us, sustainability also means regional culinary offers, environmentally friendly hotels, sustainable shopping, and much more. All these measures are designed to benefit locals and visitors alike.

As a former leading city of the Hanseatic League, Hamburg has always been focussed on sustainable economic growth. So the focus of our tourism industry is to maintain this economic base for future generations. Our driving motto is :quality over quantity”.  

As Europe’s third largest port we thrive to limit emmission – not only coming from cruise ships. Under the umbrella “Green Port” and “Smart Port”, Hamburg has put in place many technical initiatives. For example: In 2016, the port of Hamburg inaugurated Europe’s first shore power station and has since consistently increased the share of shore power and LNG at its terminals. Ships mooring at terminal Steinwerder can opt to have a truck supply them with low-emissions liquefied natural gas (LNG) while at the berth. At the cruise terminal in Altona cruise liners have been switching off their engines since 2016 during their port time, instead relying on Europe’s only shore power station for their electricity needs. In both 2017 / 2018 cruise season, this reduced CO2 emissions in the Port of Hamburg by some 658 tons. The new terminal in HafenCity, which is expected to start operations in 2022, will also be fitted with a shore power station.

Consistently increasing the share of shore power and liquefied natural gas supplied to ships at the berth is one of the aims set out in the Hamburg Clean Air Plan. In 2017 a new, extended plan was adopted. Among others, it puts special emphasis on the situation in the port. The aim is to lower nitrous oxide emissions from ships in the port by 1,160 tons by 2025.

One of the major trends that cruise lines are noticing is an increase in off-shore excursions. What types of excursions are unique to Hamburg?

Hamburg is a very attractive and compact city and with the harbor being located virtually within the city center, cruise guests take the opportunity to explore the city on foot. Major activities include exploring the former “Speicherstadt” warehouse district, which is now a UNESCO site, taking in a concert at our new stunning concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, and doing some major shopping. After all, Hamburg is known for high quality fashions and understated sophistication.

Passengers arriving during one of our major public cruise events, the Port Anniversary in May or the Hamburg Cruise Days in September, can be part of some of the world’s most spectacular celebrations of anything cruise related.

Passengers with a turnaround call, who are starting or ending their cruise in Hamburg, can easily add-on some city stays either in Hamburg itself, e.g. to discover the legendary nightlife and music scene of our city or in destinations like Berlin (100 minutes by train), Copenhagen or even the tiny historic Hanseatic city of Luebeck (45 minutes/train). The North Sea and the sophisticated island of Sylt are only a short train ride away as well.

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