World Cup a boon to tourist industry
TWIG - There may be more nearly two years to go before the 2006 soccer World Cup kicks off in Germany, but the country’s hotels and restaurants are already well prepared to extend a warm welcome to millions of visiting fans, Interior Minister Otto Schily has said.
"In 2006, the whole world will look to Germany. But we also want to bring the world to Germany," Schily told tourism professionals meeting in Berlin on Tuesday.
"Our guests can look forward to a lively and cosmopolitan Germany — as well as to a perfectly organized and inspiring soccer-fest."
Three million fans are expected to attend at least one of the 64 World Cup matches being held in 12 cities, including Munich, Hamburg and Berlin, Schily said. About one-third of them will come from abroad.
All those visitors are expected to generate big business for Germany’s tourism industry.
Already boosted by the popularity of German cities among visitors from growing markets like Russia and China, the industry expects to net sales of 3bn Eur ($3.7bn) from 5 million overnight stays during the tournament, the world’s second biggest sporting event behind the Olympics.
With the world’s eyes soon to be on Germany, preparations have been intense.
Organizers have been working feverishly to build new stadiums, rail stations and highways, but ensuring the security of visitors is the top priority, Schily said.
"We want to present ourselves as friendly and cosmopolitan during the championships," he said. "But ‘safety first’ is of course the first commandment for federal and local security forces."
As part of a "national security concept" aimed at preventing threats ranging from terrorism to hooliganism, officials have been observing best practices at showcase events across Europe.
German security officials recently travelled to Athens,
Greece, to inspect security arrangements at this year’s Summer Olympics.
Earlier, officials sent observers to this summer’s Euro 2004 European soccer
championships in Portugal.
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