German Consul General Walter Stechel welcomed travel partners to his residence last night for a traditional German Christmas celebration, celebrating 2014 and looking ahead to the New Year.
Stechel was joined by representatives from the German National Tourist Office, Lufthansa Airlines, and Wines of Germany, which provided the wine selection paired with the traditional holiday dishes served to guests.
The 2014 holiday season closes an eventful year for Germany and travel to the country.
In November, Germany marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which in addition to many historic milestones, opened the country’s eastern regions to travellers following the reunification of the east and west. Germany was also recently ranked number one in the 2014 edition of the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, an annual study measuring global perceptions of 50 nations around the world.
Looking ahead, Antje Splettstoesser of the GNTO said that in 2015, the organization will look to promote more of the country’s lesser known traditions to travellers, such as the April 30 Walpurgisnacht celebration (an historic custom heralding the coming of spring, on a night when witches were believed to meet on Brocken mountain) and Karneval, a festival similar to Mardi Gras leading up to the beginning of Lent. This initiative follows a recent drive by the GNTB to draw tourists, particularly Canadians, to Germany’s renowned Christmas markets this holiday season.
“Germany has a lot of customs and traditions that travellers may not know about,” said Splettstoesser, “and there are many ways to explore all the customs and regions of the country.”
Chris Wendland, Manager, Marketing and Communications for Lufthansa, also detailed a recent undertaking by the airline to get international Ebola patients home from the Western African nations where the recent outbreak of the disease has taken place. Wendland said that the airline recently converted an Airbus A340-300, now christened the Robert Koch (Lufthansa and the Robert Koch Institute partnered on the project), to serve as the world’s only evacuation facility for those diagnosed with the disease. The conversion of the craft took place in only a matter of weeks, allowing for on-board patient care and treatment in a sealed isolation unit constructed within the cabin. The aircraft will initially fly on a six-month campaign, during which more than 700 Lufthansa employees have volunteered to serve on board, Wendland said.
PHOTO: Ted Kalaboukis, Director Canada, Wines of Germany; Antje Splettstoesser, Director Marketing & Sales Office Canada, GNTO; Carina Schumacher, Manager Public Relations, GNTO; Walter Stechel, German Consul General, Toronto; Chris Wendland, Manager, Marketing and Communications, Lufthansa.