Seaside German state set to reopen for tourism – with restrictions

The northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has long been a popular holiday destination. After a seven month break, it is once again opening up to tourists this weekend.

Seaside German state set to reopen for tourism - with restrictions
The sun rises in Warnemünde, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Friday morning. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Büttner

The tourism industry has been unable to operate for the last seven months. But on Friday hotels, guest houses, holiday homes and campsites will once again be able to welcome guests – though only for locals this week.

However from Friday June 4th, the state will open up its borders to holidaymakers from across the country and a week later, from June 11th onwards, day-trippers will also be welcome. 

The state will also drop its controversial policy to restrict entry to those with second homes, mobile homes and boat owners.

Furthermore another rule, whereby unvaccinated children were not allowed to travel with their families for holidays in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, will also now be reversed. 

READ ALSO: The German state that’s open to daytrippers – but not children

As the series of coronavirus lockdowns over the past 14 months have been so difficult for the industry, the reopening of the tourism sector is a cautious one. The first stage of opening means that only residents of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will be allowed to go on holiday in the coastal state. 

The restarting of the tourism industry comes as the numbers of coronavirus infections continue to fall significantly across the country.

With just under 20 new infections per 100,000 residents, the northeastern state has the lowest seven-day incidence rate in Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).  

Originally, the plan was for the holiday season to begin for residents on June 7th, and for those coming from outside the state on June 14th. 

For members of the tourism industry, who had long been yearning to reopen, the accelerated opening came as a surprise. This means that some holiday venues will not open immediately on Friday as they did not have enough time to prepare. 

Tourism – with restrictions

Those wanting to escape to Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania for their vacation will need to test negative for Covid-19 before travelling, and then subsequently be tested every three days during their trip. 

The tourism industry is doubtful that test centres will be prepared for the rush of tourists over the next few weeks. According to Lars Schwarz, the president of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, testing capacities will need to be tripled in order for the reopening to go smoothly. 

Based on data gathered by the state tourism board, the holiday sector in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is already booked up to 75 percent capacity. Last year, an unusually good high and late summer season were able to partly compensate for losses in the spring. 

This time around, however, the tourism sector has been completely closed since November 2020, when all of Germany entered a shutdown amid rising coronavirus figures.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.