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Waiting for the World Cup Tourists

Germany are set to reap the rewards of hosting the 2006 World Cup to the tune of an estimated €3 billion ($3.7 billion), according to Interior Minister Otto Schily, speaking at a tourism conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

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Schily wants the world to come to Germany for the 2006 showpiece

Otto Schily, Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior, announced on Tuesday that the 2006 World Cup soccer championships are expected to net the host nation around €3 billion in tourism sales with approximately five million spectators coming to Germany for the tournament.

"Millions of people from around the world will come to Germany to watch the games,'' Schily said in a speech at the eighth tourism conference held at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin. "Our guests can look forward to a cosmopolitan and lively Germany, a perfectly organized and inspiring soccer festival.''

The announcement reiterated the interior minister statement made in July which claimed that the soccer showpiece could generate a "respectable amount'' of income, adding at the time that the event would not put a strain on the country's already beleaguered budget.

A unique chance for Germany

Bundesinnenminister Otto Schily

Otto Schily

Schily told the assembled press on the second day of the tourism conference that the 2006 World Cup was a "unique chance" for Germany to show the world that the nation was now "lively, new, hospitable and open-minded nation." The tournament will be the first Germany has hosted in 32 years. A total of 32 national teams will play 64 matches in 12 cities, including Munich, Hamburg and Berlin.

The German government is building new stadiums and rail stations and modernizing highways and railroad tracks to make the venues more accessible. Germany plans to foot the €20 million cost of the opening ceremony by selling a special gold coin to mark the country's staging of the World Cup.

The soccer-mad country is slowly getting into the spirit of the rapidly approaching global sporting event. Schily himself appeared in the mood when he flicked the official World Cup ball into the air in the Adlon conference room and deftly stopped it dead in one smooth mood, to rapturous applause.

He then called on everyone from police officers to taxi drivers to work towards the championship and prepare a welcome for the world. "We want the world to come to Germany," Schily said.

Cultural history offers more than just soccer

Logo - WM 2006

Schily also referred to Germany's "rich cultural attractions, treasures and regional diversity," and added special words of praise to the new national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann who, he said, "spreads optimism and new ideas."

Klaus Läpple, the president of the federal federation of German Tourism, added that Germany's cultural history would be an added bonus to those arriving for the championships and said that the World Cup offered marketing possibilities throughout the country in many other areas than just soccer.

As interior minister, Schily also addressed the topic of security for the World Cup, saying that nothing will be left to chance.

"We want to organize the perfect security operation," Schily said, adding that a national security draft had been developed with the government considering ban of night flights entering the country before and during the championships.

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