HANNOVER, Germany -- Travel from the U.S. to Germany is on a strong
growth track, and some of the biggest percentage increases are to
the federal states that previously constituted East Germany,
according to officials of the German National Tourist Board,
speaking at the annual Germany Travel Mart here.
For the future, tourism officials are planning new theme
promotions that tap into the primary reasons foreign travelers
visit the country, such as historical attractions, culture and
According to GNTB chairman Ursula Schorcher, Germany hosted 4.1
million overnight stays by U.S. travelers in 1998, a gain of 11.4%
compared with 1997; during the first two months of 1999, U.S.
overnights posted another 10.5% gain compared with the same months
a year earlier. "In 1998, the dynamic growth of the U.S. market
compensated for the decrease in the number of Asian guests many
times over," she said.
The U.S. is by far Germany's largest overseas visitor market and
is the second-largest national market overall, after the
Netherlands and ahead of the U.K. Some of the biggest percentage
gains for Americans were to the states in eastern Germany.
For example, U.S. visitors' overnight stays in Saxony, home of
historical cities such as Dresden and Leipzig, jumped by 25.7% last
year. The comparable increases from the U.S. to other "new" states
were 15.5% to Brandenburg, the area surrounding Berlin; 6.2% to
Thuringia; 10.7% to Saxony-Anhalt, and 46% to
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Pomerania) on the Baltic coast. "You can
see from the very high growth rates that U.S. citizens are looking
into the states they couldn't visit 10 years ago," Schorcher
Total overnights by foreigners to the eastern states were still
limited in actual numbers, however.
The biggest draw, the state of Saxony, attracted 732,000 foreign
overnights last year; each of the western German states attracted
more than 1 million. The most popular region of Germany for
foreigners is Bavaria, which drew 8.1 million overnight stays in
1998, a gain of 11.6% compared with 1997. Overall, the number of
foreign overnight stays in Germany last year grew by 3.2%, to 34.5
The tourist board's market research also indicates what American
visitors like to do in Germany, based on in-flight surveys of U.S.
airline passengers. Ninety percent said they engaged in city
sightseeing, 81% mentioned visiting historical sites, 78% cited
wining and dining, 77% went shopping and 61% visited museums and/or
The tourist board this year plans to start publishing a new
series of consumer brochures on the theme Culinary Germany,
starting with one on the Black Forest region of Baden-Wurttemberg,
in southwest Germany.
The brochures will suggest "gourmet routes" in the selected
region and list restaurants plus background information on some of
the characteristic local dishes. Culinary Germany brochures for
other regions will follow. The Black Forest brochure includes maps
with three suggested culinary routes and listings of 72 restaurants
in 51 towns.
For 1999, the tourist board is promoting Goethe Year in honor of
the 250th anniversary of the birth of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Although he may not be at the top of many Americans' reading lists,
the author of "Faust" is considered Germany's literary
The year 2000 will be a busy one for the tourist board: Germany
will be hosting a world's fair, the Expo 2000 in Hannover, as well
as the once-a-decade performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play
In addition, the German National Tourist Board will seek
culture-minded visitors with two big anniversary promotions: Bach
Year, marking the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann
Sebastian Bach, and the 600th birthday of Johannes Gutenberg, whose
invention of moveable type led to the development of the printing