Berlin hot on Paris' heels as tourist destination
After another record-breaking half year of tourism, Berlin is now Europe's third most popular destination behind London and Paris. But it seems there's still some work to be done if Berlin wants to catch up with its rivals any time soon.
"The strongest half-year of all time."
It's a sentence Cornelia Yzer, Berlin's Senator for Economics, is getting used to saying – because once again, Germany's capital has attracted unprecedented numbers of tourists this year.
From January to June, hotels in Berlin recorded some 13.8 million stays, beating last year's record figure by 4.8 per cent, reports Tagesspiegel.
What's more: the proportion of visitors from outside of Germany increased even more dramatically, with hotels recording an 8.5 per cent increase in stays compared to last year.
In the European stakes, the German capital is now in third place – firmly seated behind London and Paris as one of Europe's "Top Five" tourist cities
Yet in terms of growth rate, Berlin tops the European tables.
Senator Yzer certainly sees this as a continuing trend - and is keen to get to work on catching up with Paris.
Champions League played a big part
The key to Berlin's tourism boom could have something to do with visitors from China and the Arabian Gulf States, reports Tagesspiegel.
With 68.5 per cent more Arabian tourists and 60 per cent more Chinese tourists visiting Berlin in June alone, increased tourism from these countries seems to have more than compensated for falling numbers of Russian tourists in recent years as tensions have risen in eastern Europe.
Tourists have been flocking to Berlin from near and afar - with Brazil, Israel and South Korea also noted as big contributors to the Berlin's tourism trade.
Meanwhile, this summer's UEFA Champions League Final attracted visitors from across Europe.
The event, held in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on June 6th, was a particular draw for visitors from Spain, Portugal and Italy.
If this development continues into the second half of 2015, annual tourist numbers in Berlin could crack the 30 million mark, reports Tagesspiegel – a figure the city fell short of last year.
More work to be done
But if the city hopes to rise above Paris in the tourism stakes, more needs to be done, reports Tagesspiegel.
For one, Berlin needs an airport other than Tegel - not just to cope with increased passenger numbers, but also to allow for direct flight connections, the lack of which has dampened Berlin's touristic success in recent years.
But with Berlin's long-overdue new Willy Brandt airport showing no signs of opening any time soon, Tegel and Schönefeld could remain bottlenecks for years to come.
Those in charge of tourism in the city are also working hard to ensure that the boom is bearable for those actually living in Berlin.
This means keeping the number of holiday lets in check, as well as strengthening noise control measures and waste disposal in the city.
And if tourism in Berlin continues to grow at the current rate, those involved could have a big job on their hands.