Germany reinvents itself as tourist magnet

More than 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell, Germany is pulling in tourists as never before, setting itself up as a serious rival to more established European destinations like France and Italy.

The German tourism industry was in bullish mood Thursday at the world's biggest trade fair, the ITB, as holidaymakers flock in ever-greater numbers to see historic Berlin, Bavarian castles and Baltic coast beaches.

With a nod to Germany's reputation as an economic powerhouse and leading exporter, Ernst Burgbacher, secretary of state for tourism, crowed: "Now we can add 'holiday in Germany' to 'made in Germany'."

And the figures back up his enthusiasm. According to the World Tourism Organisation, the German tourism industry grew by 12 percent last year, with the number of visitors breaking the 60 million barrier for the first time.

"We've knocked France down to third on the podium" in terms of a holiday destination for fellow Europeans, said Petra Hedorfer, from the German National Tourist Office.

Reflecting countless years of neighbourly rivalry, a representative of the French tourist board snapped back. "France is and remains the most visited country in the world," sniffed Fabienna Javault.

Like many others, Germany - the home of the Munich Beer Festival - has seen a significant rise in the number of tourist from emerging markets such as China.

One of these Chinese tourists, Chen Yin from Shanghai, told AFP why Germany was her favourite European destination.

"Germany is safer and better organised than France or Italy, the people are nicer and more willing to help you out if you are lost and of course their mastery of English is a major plus," said Chen.

Hedorfer said the Football World Cup, which Germany hosted to great acclaim in 2006, had changed the image of the country and attracted the tourists.

"Germany is associated with different things than it was 10 years ago," she said.

Within Germany, the southern state of Bavaria with its fairytale castles and world-famous beer festival is still the most-visited region but Berlin, with 8.5 million visitors in 2010, is posting the highest growth rates.

And more than 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell and the country was reunified, the regions of the former communist East Germany are touting themselves as a new tourist draw.

"Before, the Dutch would go and do their sailing in France and then come to the Baltic Sea (in northern Germany)," explained Gert Brinckmann, from the tourism board of the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

"Now they are coming inland."

The so-called "new federal states" are an untapped resource, said Brinckmann, with some 1,500 tumbledown castles and manor houses in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania that would make charming hotels and guest houses.

For the moment, it is mainly German tourists visiting these regions, which is helping to boost the figures.

In addition, visitor numbers include business travel, which skew the picture slightly given that Germany is Europe's biggest economy.

But there is evidence that Germans, who travel the most abroad of any nationality, are turning their attention - and their wallets - to their own country, experts say.

"We get the feeling that the population is getting older and that people are getting to the age where their big trips are behind them and they are rediscovering the regions of their own country," said Josef Muessig, promoter of the Tauber Valley region.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable