Bier steins & Martin Luther all set to be Germany’s next tourist offensive

Bier steins & Martin Luther all set to be Germany’s next tourist offensive

It’s rare you get to celebrate five centuries of anything let alone two of them in consecutive months.

But that’s exactly what German tourism is pinning its next wave on – the 500th anniversary of its famed beer purity laws and five centuries since the reformation of Lutheran founder, Pope-hater and general rabble-rouser Martin Luther.

According to Stefanie Eberhard, director at the German National Tourist office in Sydney, Aussie tourism to Deutschland was up 4.4 per cent in 2015, reflecting a six-year positive trend.

Eberhard, speaking to Travel Weekly at a trade day-come-German-beer-tasting event in Sydney yesterday, said the nation’s revered steins had always mesmerised Aussie tourists but she believed Luther’s 500th milestone would also have us boarding Lufthansa flights.

Eberhard said of Luther’s milsestone: “There are 80 million Lutherans around the world, 70,000 in Australia, there’s plenty of Protestants, this will be big for German tourism.”

Berlin and Munich are well-trod paths for Aussie travelers to Germany, however Eberhard believed the (east German) cities of Leipzig and Dresden were set to usurp their more brash cousins.

“Both Leipzig and Dresden are wonderful artistic cities with a rich history, and they’re now calling Leipzig the ‘new Berlin,’” Eberhard regaled.

“Many artists live there and it has a very big scene for young people; lots of bars and a very strong beer culture, and a very strong classical musical background, too. Hamburg, too, is our maritime city. I took a group of Australian travel agents there last year and they absolutely loved it,” she said.

Not that Eberhard’s job (a confessed Bavarian native and tragic) is to play favourites. Instead, she said, she wants to promote Germany’s 16 states equally. “There’s definitely some places that are just more attractive to Australians, and I think that’s about finding things that Aussies can’t find at home.

“It would be pretty pointless Germany trying to promote its beaches to Australians. We want to promote our beer purity laws, our wines our food.

“People think ‘wine and food’ and they think Italy or France, but Germany has some of the most beautiful wine and vineyards in Europe.

“I think Australians are cottoning-on to the regions around the (wine growing) Rhine because river cruising is huge amongst Australians. I now think it (Australia) is the second biggest market for river cruises behind the US,” Eberhard revealed.

The country’s natural wonders – its national parks, lakes and forests – were also a tourist treasure overlooked by many content solely on a stein-a-thon and matching hangover at Munich’s Octoberfest.

“I don’t think Australians travel to Europe, to Germany, for the nature,” Eberhard  said, “and that can be quite challenging.

“I think they mostly go solely for the drinking; they simply don’t know about (Germany’s) wonderful nature.”

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