NEW YORK -- With Berlin now firmly re-established as the capital of
Germany following the reopening of the famous Reichstag parliament
building last April, American visitors are flocking there in record
numbers, prompting Berlin Tourism Marketing here (BTM) to double
its U.S. marketing budget for 2000.
The city's public-private partnership for visitor marketing, BTM
is targeting some special events for promotion in the next two
years and also will start to recommend other cities in the region,
like Dresden, for short excursions from Berlin, according to Hanns
Peter Nerger, BTM's president.
"We are extremely pleased that we had more visitors from America
this year  than in any preceding year," he said, estimating
that by year's end, U.S. arrivals would account for 320,000 bed
That would represent a 5.6% increase compared with 1998 figures,
which had risen by more than 20% from 1997 levels.
"All current market indicators show that the American market
will continue to be of growing importance for Berlin in the
future," he added.
As a result, BTM, which maintains offices here and in
Fredricksburg, Va., is boosting its budget for U.S. promotional
activities, but a spokeswoman said exact figures were confidential.
The increase means Berlin will likely be participating in more
trade shows and working more closely with retailers.
Part of the increase will be spent to attract niche markets ,
like the gay and lesbian market and the Jewish market, Nerger said.
The gay-lesbian promotion will by done jointly with the city of
Hamburg, he noted.
Meanwhile, Nerger said BTM will work more closely on joint
promotions with nearby cities like Dresden, which is suitable for
short excursions by visitors to Berlin as it is only two hours away
Although the city of Dresden, with dozens of new hotels, is
attracting lots of German and European visitors, it counted only
about 35,000 overnights from Americans among its 2 million total
tourist overnights in 1999, according to Yvonne Kubitza, managing
director of the Dresden Tourist Promotion Board.
Although much of downtown Dresden was leveled by massive bombing
raids in World War II, most of its baroque buildings have been
restored to their original state; the last major project remaining
is the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche, which is expected to be
finished in 2004.