Attraction is our passion

From leisure facilities in foundries to “criminal” excursions, here we bring you Duisburg’s experience of attracting tourists.

We interviewed Norbert Gatz (from Lebensräume für Menschen in Duisburg GmbH) who told us what Duisburg is doing to attract tourists. Redeveloping land, focusing on active leisure, getting close to nature and offering tour packages at affordable prices can all be effective, even if you don’t have the Eiffel Tower or Cologne Cathedral.

Some areas don’t have any significant well-known historical or cultural attractions. How can cities like these still attract tourists?

Thanks to their conveniently situated hotels these towns can be a starting point for active leisure in the region. The attractions of the natural world, sport, rafting, fishing and cooking traditional food can all draw people in. Integrated packages are very popular: the tourist gets everything from their transfers to the product itself. There are alternatives on offer for guests with different income levels. They are high quality options, but at prices affordable to different categories of tourists. In summary, ready-packaged options and a range of prices can attract tourists to the region.

What interesting and unusual projects is Duisburg undertaking to attract tourists?

Duisburg is part of the Ruhr area. It is about 100km by 70km. The city is situated in the west of the region where the steel and coal industries are located. Duisburg is on the river Rhine which is an important waterway for transporting goods through Germany, and together with its port this makes it a key transport hub.

A notable feature of Duisburg is that some of the old steel foundries have been preserved and repurposed for active leisure pursuits. This has been very popular with the public as people enjoy remembering their history. A further attraction is that these buildings have often featured as film backdrops.

Duisburg shows us how an old industrial culture is bringing in tourists who are spending their free time here and engaging with the region’s history.

Duisburg is a starting point for tourist excursions along the river Rhine. Visitors can see the locality and the port installations in comfort from the water. Guests can also enjoy music or a meal together on party boats. Climbing and diving facilities are also available.

Duisburg offers interesting music and theatre, and there are festivals which attract younger people Some private museums also have modern art exhibits.

Tourists can take an official city excursion run by the tourist office or visit the key places in the city by bus. Private companies also offer themed excursions. For example, there are food tours which visit the city’s restaurants where you can listen to music and watch short performances, or “crime” tours which follow the hero of a TV series where the action takes place in Duisburg. You can also see the locations on foot. Traditional crafts are the focus for another excursion. The tour showcases ceramics, beekeeping, textiles and handmade woodcraft items and products for the home.

A creative approach is needed when devising city excursions so that themes and places are linked together. This can involve streets named after writers or musicians being included as part of the route. Private initiatives from the city’s residents are an important part of these tours.

What role does the city’s government have in these projects?

The government is trying to develop tourism in order to improve the attractiveness of the city, so that Duisburg is shown in the best light. Because of the development of tourism, for those who live outside the region it is best known as a leisure destination. However, the economy is just as important for the city as it being a tourist attraction. Hotels, restaurants, passenger transport and infrastructure all benefit from the influx of tourists. Of course, the quality of life in the city improves because there are lots of opportunities for leisure.

This is why people have been employed to market and promote the city. The city doesn’t do this on its own, though. It cooperates with other cultural organizations and private sector partners.

Should the authorities be creating conditions for the development of the sector, or is this the job of private entrepreneurs?

Government initiatives are a sound basis for developing tourism. However, in my opinion, creative potential and volume of ideas depend more on entrepreneurs. Their dedication makes them more adaptable and innovative, and they are able to react more quickly to changes in the economic situation.

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