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Cologne Named Germany’s Largest River Cruise Port

Cologne river

Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK Köln) has published a study on river cruises in Cologne, in cooperation with the Cologne Tourist Board and boat trip operators.

It gives an analysis of the economic significance of the sector and comes to the conclusion that Cologne is Germany’s largest river cruise port.

“We’re delighted by this fantastic outcome”, says Dr. Jürgen Amann, CEO of the Cologne Tourist Board.

“The study finally provides a clearer picture of the booming river cruise segment and what it means for Cologne as a travel destination. Now we need to secure our lead by doing everything we can to remain attractive for boat operators.”

Every year, around 2,770 river cruise boats dock at the city’s 17 jetties for cruise boats. Another 16 jetties are available for panoramic, pleasure and special event boats. A total of 46 national and international operators drop anchor in Cologne, including Köln-Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt, Kölntourist Personenschiffahrt am Dom, Viking River Cruises, Rhein River Company, Feenstra Rijn Lijn, Siebengebirge, Weisbarth Fahrgastschifffahrt and Avista.

1.46 million guests and 12.6 million euros in revenue

The study is the first time that the economic effect of passenger shipping has been quantified. Approximately 1.46 million people board a boat in Cologne or travel to Cologne by boat. Some 460,000 of them visit Cologne during multi-day river cruises.

Numerous sectors benefit from all these guests in the city: hospitality, retail, tourist guides, coach travel, arts and culture, public transport and taxi firms. This business brings the city 12.6 million euros per year.

A multitude of service providers have already responded to cruise guests’ needs and joined forces with boat operators. The Cologne Tourist Board will be setting up a key account management structure to optimise these ties and increase the support provided for tourist service partners in Cologne. The aim is to make the wide variety of offerings in Cologne more visible for cruise operators, develop suitable products in direct collaboration with service providers, inform operators about them and thus harness synergy effects.

Need for attractive environment and consideration of sector in development projects

The boat operators are aware of Cologne’s appeal as a travel destination. They are planning investments of 23 million euros in the construction and modernisation of landing piers, shore-side power facilities and terminal buildings.

According to Alexander Hoeckle, Director of IHK Köln’s International and Business Support Section (which also includes tourism), the problem lies elsewhere. He explains, “We felt that the public and policymakers in Cologne greatly underestimated the passenger shipping sector as an economic factor. There are a few things we need to talk about if the sector is to remain successful in Cologne.”

The development work being carried out by the council around the Rhine promenade is a particularly positive measure. However, to make the riverbank more attractive, it would be best if the work could be staggered. The boat operators’ needs should also be taken into account – for example, in the key area of supply infrastructure. Ultimately, if the work is done in a structured manner, it will not only be guests that benefit – the people of Cologne will too.

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