The G7 summit in Bavarian Elmau is all about global politics. The images that will go around the world convey an additional message: Bavaria is a beautiful destination. But does local tourism benefit from such an event?
The big international summit started on Sunday in Elmau, Upper Bavaria. The meeting already took place there in 2015 - and the pictures went around the world. At the time, millions of people around the world saw the promotional images from the Bavarian region. But does the major event bring more than a short-term advertising effect? What impact will the G7 summit have on the tourism region?
Review of the G7 Summit 2015
Mayor Thomas Schwarzenberger remembers fondly the day when then U.S. President Barack Obama visited nearby Krün: "That was actually the summit for us during the 2015 summit. We were all there and had the opportunity to shake hands with the American president or the German chancellor, take pictures, and take selfies. That was a very special highlight in our local history."
And President Obama visibly enjoyed his stay in Krün, including the Bavarian snacks and the wheat beer. This came from the Karg brewery in Murnau. The beer bench on which Barack Obama sat with Angela Merkel at the time now stands in front of the brewery. The owner's family thinks fondly about the summit, when the U.S. president became an advertising medium for the small brewery.
"The moment of glory," recalls Victoria Schubert-Rapp. "For one day, we were sought after by all the media, and it was for the first time, for our small family brewery somewhere in the hinterland. From that point of view, it was a big deal for us." Economically, however, it did little for the brewery.
Overnight Stays Up 40 Percent
The situation is different for the lodging establishments in the region, as Daniel Schimmer, chairman of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hotel and Restaurant Association, explains. Since the summit, the number of overnight stays has risen by 40 percent which is a clear tourism benefit.
"In fact, you just have to look at the whole thing in a differentiated way. Overnight stays benefit of course from long bookings, while in gastronomy the whole thing looks different. They live from day tourism, which will be accordingly limited during this time."
Attention for the Region
"If you now look at it from a tourism perspective, then, of course, the G7 summit is not a reason for a vacation decision," says Mayor of the nearby town Krün, Mr. Schwarzenberger. "But of course, that leads to the fact that we are better known, that the attention is drawn to our place, to the region, to the Alps and the Karwendel becomes much greater." And that, he says, leads to increasing numbers of hits on the region's websites. "And then we have to make it so that people say: we want to spend a vacation there, too!"
But this is much more difficult with major political events than with sporting events, for example, which also take place more often in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Tourism expert Harald Pechlaner, professor at the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, is convinced of this. "A world championship in the alpine area naturally aims directly at the sports and winter competence of this region. This effect can also be easily tracked and measured," says Pechlaner. "With the G7 Summit, it is much more difficult to plan this from the outset, because current day-to-day political events can also massively influence the summit."
What Is the Outlook?
The decisive factor for the region and the tourism benefit is therefore whether people associate something positive with the summit. The more successful the meeting, the more profitable it could be for the region. In any case, there are plenty of problems for the heads of state to solve, as Annegret Bendiek from the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin explains. She compares the issues at the 2015 and 2022 G7 summits and concludes that there are similar agenda items. "Topics like climate, health, trade, Africa. Those are enduring themes. We had those in 2015 and they're repeating now in 2022."