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Travel

Making World Cup Guests Feel at Home

During this year's World Cup, Germany's restaurant and bar owners hope to lure customers through unusual activities. The hotel and restaurant sector is scrambling to get things ready for the June 9 kick-off.

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"Pok ta Pok" is an ancient Mexican form of soccer -- and a World Cup side event in Berlin

"Get off the couch and hit the pubs" -- that's what German restaurant and pub owners want to convey to soccer fans this summer. Many beer gardens, bars and restaurants will transform themselves into mini-stadiums where spectators can hang out, eat, drink and watch the games. Hotels and bed & breakfasts will offer special services to customers. Huge television screens, special World Cup meals and boxed lunches? You bet -- Germany's food and accommodation providers have thought of nearly everything.

The German National Tourist Board estimates that during the four weeks of the world's largest sporting event, visitors will spend between 600 and 800 million euros ($7.3 to $9.7 million) in the country.

Five and a half million overnight stays will be booked. Around three million spectators are anticipated at the 12 stadiums for the 64 World Cup matches. One million foreign guests are expected to stream into the country. Tourist industry analysts believe another 400,000 visitors who will not even attend the games will come to the World Cup host nation this year.

"We're hoping for new impulses," the German Hotel and Restaurant Association said. Turnover is estimated to reach at least 500 million euros.

Fun without going to the games

The gastronomy sector is placing its bets on soccer fans who didn't manage to get tickets for the games. The "Ständige Vertretung" bar in Berlin's Mitte district plans to serve its customers sausage and pig's knuckles. While diners gnaw away at the bone, they can listen to commentaries by visiting nationals watching their home teams playing on the TV screens.

EM 2004 - griechischer Fußball-Jubel in Köln

That's the ticket! Fans watching a soccer game in a Cologne pub

In Regensburg, one restaurant owner has rented the huge municipal ice rink and will transform it into a "soccer paradise" during the games.

The people of Cologne are looking forward to Brazilian visitors, especially since the Brazilian national team will be staying in a small town near the big city. Some say the match is made in heaven -- after all, Cologne is the "capital" of Carnival festivities every spring. In many of the restaurants, owners intend to serve meals decorated in Brazilian colors. Others are having multilingual menus printed.

Smiles, smiles everyone

Hotel managers have been training their employees for weeks. Brushing up on foreign languages, learning key words, understanding what visitors eat and drink in their own countries -- hotel personnel have their work cut out for them. Hotel, restaurant and tourist associations have even published handbooks on it all. Around 1,000 hotels have agreed to adhere to the "friendliness campaign" hotel associations have initiated.

Nur, wenns auch Bier gibt

Factory worker displays sausages designed like soccer shoes

The luxury Adlon Hotel, located next to Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, plans to concoct special World Cup cocktails and will keep its restaurants open longer.

In a hotel in Neumünster, guests can feast their eyes on rooms decked out in soccer paraphernalia. Beds have been made up to look like soccer fields; walls have been painted grassy-green. Bathrooms have been labeled "locker rooms" and desks "penalty areas."

Space to pray

Players on the Saudi Arabian team, who will be staying in Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt, get an entire floor to themselves in Dolce Hotel. "Saudi Arabia is a dream team for us," Dolce Hotel Manager Michel Prokop said.

Fußball, WM Qualifikation 2006, Iran gegen Saudi Arabien

World Cup qualification: Iran vs. Saudi Arabia

The hotel created an entirely new menu for the Muslim players, without pork or alcohol. The Saudis will be able to practice their faith in a specially designed prayer room. Korans will replace classic hotel Bibles.

Earthly temptations have also been banned from hotel rooms: mini-bars will hold only non-alcoholic beverages and pay-TV porn channels will be switched off. Instead, the guests will be able to watch 35 Arabic satellite TV channels. The players may want to watch the games in their mother tongue.

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