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And the Winner is … German Tourism

Mario Quadt (df)March 12, 2006

With a million foreign visitors expected for the 2006 World Cup soccer games, and another 40 million television viewers globally, the German tourism industry is eager to promote curry sausages and the Cologne Cathedral.

The 2006 World Cup will give the German tourism sector a boostImage: AP

As a holiday destination, Germany, with roughly 20 million foreign visitors per year, lags way behind neighboring France, which has more than three times as many tourists from abroad. So when Germany was chosen as the 2006 host nation to the biggest and most popular sporting event of all time -- the soccer World Cup -- the tourism industry was jubilant.

One million visitors from around the globe are expected for the games, which will be held in various cities and last for a month starting June 9. During that time, the German National Tourist Board anticipates a need for 4.8 to 5.5 million additional hotel rooms.

"The World Cup will boost the domestic economy by about 9 or 10 billion euros", says the Tourist Board´s managing director, Petra Hedorfer.

Long-term strategy

Furthermore, the Tourist Board is thinking long term -- not just about the cheering fans filling up the stadiums, but also the 40 million television viewers worldwide.

"The World Cup is a global media event these days. It is a tremendous opportunity to attract foreign tourists to Germany", said Hedorfer. "We have planned an entire arts and cultural program around the games".

Bildgalerie Wahl neue Weltwunder - Kölner Dom
View of the Cologne cathedral -- a popular tourist landmarkImage: AP

There's more to German hospitality, and its culinary tradition for that matter, than sauerkraut. The Brandenburg Gate, the Cologne Cathedral and other historical sights, as well as plump, curried sausages and regional specialties such as Swabian spätzle, for example, will be featured in advertising campaigns aimed at promoting a friendly, service-oriented country.

Financing the event

No need for state subsidies to finance this massive event. The World Cup, which takes place every four years, beats even the Olympic Games in terms of private sources of income.

"We are able to finance the World Cup through corporate sponsorships, international broadcasting rights and, of course, ticket sales. Now we've added hospitality services, such as gourmet dishes for VIP guests", said Andreas Herren, spokesman for FIFA, the international soccer federation.

Proceeds from sales of tickets and hospitality services will benefit FIFA's organizational committee in Germany, which is responsible for building projects and infrastructure, as well as a vast palate of cultural offerings and the smooth running of the 64 tournament games.

Seventy percent of the income generated from television rights and sponsorships will be distributed among the 207 regional federations worldwide.

Gigantic viewing screens

Germans are also eager to avoid a problem that cropped up at the last World Cup hosted by both Korea and Japan in 2002 -- empty seats in the stadiums.

Deutsche Fans feiern den Sieg gegen Südkorea
Germany fans celebrate victory over South Korea in 2002 World CupImage: AP

"We can sell 2.9 million tickets, and the goal of FIFA is to make sure that every possible seat is filled. When there are tickets that sponsors have been allotted, but no longer need, we want to be able to recirculate them to the public", said Herren.

Even for soccer fans who are not in ticketholders, there will be gigantic screens set up for public viewing in major cities, including all the venues where the games will be played. It is hoped that the viewing areas will create a festive mood among soccer fans, although some are worried about the potential for violence in these crowded areas.

Commercial possibilities

The area between the German parliament building, the Reichstag, and the chancellery in the political heart of Berlin, could easily become a kind of mini-soccer city. Adidas, the German sports apparel producer, wants to set up shop there.

Adidas and other companies hope to take advantage of the confluence of sports fans and the overall good mood.

"With 64 games overall, and 100,000 spectators for each and every game, we will reach millions on a scale of incredible magnitude," said FIFA's Herren.

It looks to be a marketing person's dream.