After more than 500 car-themed events and 125 days of celebrations, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) and Southwestern Germany closed on 10 September a summer dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the automobile invention by Carl Benz. From the opening event on 7 May in Stuttgart to the finale last Saturday in Mannheim, the success of this special occasion, selected by GNTB as one of the key-marketing themes for 2011, has been upheld by the great number of visitors coming from all over the world, including the Arabian Gulf.
Having registered in 2010 an impressive increase of 26.4% of overnight stays as compared to the figures of the previous year, and being Germany the second most visited European country out of this region, the key importance of the Arabian Gulf market for the German tourist industry is fully consolidated. The excellent data regarding GCC citizens travelling to Germany prompted the German National Tourist Office (GNTO), the local affiliate of the GNTB in Dubai, to highlight the summer leitmotiv in the region, where the German iconic car brands retain a strong appeal. A special page, available both in English and Arabic and highlighting the anniversary activities throughout Germany, can be found at the GNTB newly designed website www.germany.travel, under the section ‘Specials’.
The main events took place in locations and regions that are particularly associated with the motor car. Pforzheim, the home of the famous Bertha Benz, hosted a huge classic car parade ‘Motorissimo’. Karlsruhe gave birth both to Carl Benz and Baron Karl von Drais, the inventor of the bicycle. The city celebrated its famous citizens during its jubilee with the ‘Tribute to Carl Benz’ vintage car convoy as well as with exhibitions and events that jazzed up the whole summer.
In Stuttgart motorsports fans could live the atmosphere of 1950s car races through the ‘Solitude Revival’, which featured racing cars and motorcycles. Visitors to Lake Constance were presented not only the options offered by modern cutting-edge cars, but they could also look back at the history of motorised transport at the vintage vehicles exhibition ‘Bodensee Fair for Classics’.
The summer months dedicated to the invention of the motorcar were intended also to show GCC visitors that a driving tour is still one of the best ways to discover what Germany has to offer. Germany not only has an excellent autobahn network, but it has also a huge number of smaller roads that pass through picturesque holiday regions. What's more, there are over 150 scenic routes up and down the country, whose themes bring out the best of every region. Two of the best known are the Romantic Road between Würzburg and Füssen, and the German Alpine Road, which winds its way for 450 kilometres, from the Lake Constance to the Lake Königssee.
There are also many other routes on a number of captivating themes. The German Toy Road, from Nuremberg to Erfurt is considered a dream for children and a trip down memory lane for grown-ups with workshops, exhibitions and museums dedicated to toys of all shapes and sizes along the way.
The Hunsrück-Nahe region, home to some of the most beautiful highland scenery in Germany, boasts a unique and fascinating treasure trove: the German Gemstone Route. This route offers a dazzling array of richly varied experiences, including diamonds, agates, gemstone cutting, acclaimed mines, museums, rugged scenery and history at your fingertips.
Natural beauty and wellness are the focus of the Black Forest Spa Route in the northern Black Forest. This 270-kilometre scenic drive passes through idyllic valleys, hot, mineral-rich springs, spas and health resorts, making it the perfect place for all-round pampering.
The Automobile Summer came to a close in Mannheim on Saturday, 10 September 2011, with the premiere of Autosymphonic, which combined music, singing, and automotive sounds. This piece of art brought together images, videos and lasers to form a huge multimedia symphony for cars and orchestra and make tangible the emotional side of the automobile.