BERLIN -- Parity, shmarity. Despite a stronger euro nearly equal to
the dollar, the German capital remains a bargain among European
destinations for U.S. visitors.
"Berlin's really a good deal for Americans who want to stay in
luxury hotels and do a lot of shopping," said Hanns P. Nerger,
president and chief executive officer of Berlin Tourismus Marketing
(BTM), the city's tourist board.
Average nightly room rates in the city are significantly lower
than in most major western European capitals -- and are even
slightly cheaper than urban hotels in less prosperous central
The $98 average hotel rate in Berlin last year compared with
$183 a night in Paris; $173 in London; $136 in Madrid; $109 in
Prague, Czech Republic; and $102 in Budapest, Hungary, according to
the Arthur Andersen Hotel Industry Benchmark Survey 2001.
And rooms are easier to come by, too, with an average 66%
occupancy -- compared with 80% in Amsterdam -- of the city's 66,580
beds (in 557 hotels) in 2001, said BTM.
Thanks to a spurt in hotel construction, more than 75,000 rooms
could become available by 2004.
"I think we have the best hotel landscape in Europe," said
Nerger. "There are so many new buildings, and the older ones had to
renovate or [watch business] go down."
Daytime bargains abound as well, and shoppers will find retail
goods priced an average of one-third less than in London and about
25% less than in New York, said Nerger.
Meanwhile, the BTM's WelcomeCard discount visitor's pass --
priced at about $18 -- offers one adult and up to three children
under age 14 free public transport throughout Berlin and
neighboring Potsdam for 72 hours.
An accompanying coupon booklet offers discounts of up to 50% at
92 attractions, including theaters, museums, the city zoo, the
casino and bus and boat tours. -- K.K.