Following the effects of the global economic crisis, which badly affected the touristic sector of many European cities, in 2009 the city of Munich experienced a sensitive decrease in the number of its habitual Arab and Gulf tourists. In addition, the travel concerns arising from the circulating risk of a pandemia contributed to even worsen Munich's records of tourism from the Gulf during the year.
Yet, for long the Bavarian capital has been one of the preferred European destinations for Arab and Gulf travellers, who every year flock into the city to enjoy its Medieval artistic treasures, the unique landscapes offered by the surrounding regions and the elegant and stylish fashion and artistic scene. Consequently, in order to better meet the necessities of such an important customer share, Munich's reception and leisure structures have developed specific features for ensuring their Arab and GCC clients' satisfaction.
bridge:media was approached by the city of Munich for an intensive and broad scale PR intervention targeting the Gulf countries in the contingency circumstances of summer 2009. The main challenge consisted of setting up an extensive communication campaign able to achieve prompt results among the target audience while providing a more informed perspective on all the special features offered by Munich to its visitors from the Gulf.
bridge:media supported the Munich Tourist Office in reacting to this particular situation with an 'emergency' campaign aimed at quickly achieving an extensive coverage on the Gulf's national and regional press. Ad-hoc features and press releases were structured to target general news, politics and business media, but also more specific magazines of female interest, lifestyle and specialised travel publications.
The provided consulting strategy aimed at highlighting the special travelling facilitations and on-site attractions the city was offering to Gulf visitors. For instance, the several connection flights from all main GCC capitals to Munich Airport, the efficiency of public transport and the good standard of life characterizing the metropolis were reiterated to demonstrate the valuable and traditionally appreciated services offered by the city to its Gulf tourists. It was also underlined that hotels and restaurants are often well- equipped with Arabic speaking staff or that special meal options during Ramadan have been introduced to meet the requests of Arab customers.
Secondly, in light of the family-oriented touristic demand of the Gulf, it was important to remark the well-known broad range of possible activities offered by the city to the different members of the family. Therefore, bridge:media emphasized the many-sided 'souls' of Munich including the fashionable and stylish shopping scene which every year attracts a crowd of young people, but also the modern health centres and spas of the surrounding area which respond to the necessities of more mature visitors.
The renewed portray of Munich aimed at charming the female public with the picturesque cafe areas and Medieval spots of the historic city centre, but it also lured male travellers and football fans eager to see Bayern Munchen's team in action. In addition, the campaign intended to present Munich as a destination equipped with accommodation and leisure solutions suiting any taste, from luxury hotels and fancy boutiques to furnished flats for families and more relaxing outdoor activities.
Images of typical visitors from the Gulf walking in the city centre and quotations of enthusiast and well-know personalities of the Arab world, who regularly choose the Bavarian capital for their vacations were also included as part of the publications. This feature added further credibility to the reputation of Munich as familiar and already appreciated travel destination by tourists from GCC.
Finally, statements of the World Health Organization, reassuring about the safety of travelling at the end of the pandemia concerns were also deemed relevant for encouraging the part of the audience still worried the events of the previous months.
The several publications targeting both national and regional press in a concentrated period of time, but with a remarkable intensity, provided a more informative perspective on the diversified touristic offer of Munich to its Arab visitors.
The communication campaign contributed to disseminate a family-friendly image of the city, then positively perceived by the media and the GCC's public. By including in the publications pictures and opinions of typical tourists from the Gulf, potential visitors were reassured that they would find reliable services as well as leisure solutions meeting the necessities of the family any time of the year.
In conclusion, bridge:media's PR plan has been part of the successful response that the Munich witnessed during the weeks following the campaign. The city confirmed as one of the most popular travel destination in Germany for Arab tourism and in 2010 and it has also experienced a remarkable growth of visitors coming from Gulf countries compared to the previous year.