After the corona crisis, tourism in Berlin is slowly recovering. In January, the deficit in overnight stays was around 60 percent compared to the last year before Corona, 2019, and by April the numbers had improved significantly to minus 22 percent. But nobody can predict how the summer will be due to inflation, the Ukraine war and the rising number of corona. The city is particularly lacking in international guests, says Christian Tänzler, spokesman for Visit-Berlin. Between January and April, 56 percent fewer guests came from Italy, again compared to 2019, and the British, previously the frontrunner among Berlin guests from Europe, were down 37.6 percent. Actually, Berlin could now suspend its program to improve the distribution of tourism flows within the city, but that is exactly what is not happening. On the contrary: The districts will probably get “significantly more” money this year for their own tourism promotion projects than proposed in the draft budget, as Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz (independent, for SPD) indicated on Monday evening. So far, 100,000 euros per district were planned. The money comes from city tax, commonly known as bed tax.
Schwarz sees the cooperation with the districts in tourism as a success that one does not want to jeopardize. On Monday, the cooperation agreement between the Senate and the districts was renewed, which has ensured since 2018 that the districts are involved in tourism promotion and the expansion of tourist infrastructure. At the same time, the districts undertake not to damage the entire city of Berlin marketing with their own campaigns. 180 projects in the districts have been implemented since 2018, said Schwarz, including new info points, advertising for cycle routes in the outskirts or the “Fair Kiez” program to settle conflicts between residents and restaurateurs in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
“Berlin consists of twelve major cities. I’ve only really become aware of that in recent years,” said Burkhard Kieker, Managing Director of the tourism marketing agency Visit Berlin. It was important to him “that the city’s marketing doesn’t fray,” meaning that individual districts appear independently at major tourism fairs. The fact that the 180 projects were successful, especially the central app “Going Local” with tips away from the hotspots, is something Kieker says about the increased number of overnight stays in the districts, but also about data evaluations from social media platforms. For example, one can see exactly at what time which groups – French, English or New Zealanders – are uploading photos of sights to Facebook or Instagram. The company’s own Going Local app also supplies user data; After that, certain content could be further expanded or other offers could be deleted again. The app is constantly updated and also provided with new offers. “The thing works. People go there too.”
On Monday evening, Visit Berlin invited all district mayors to sign the cooperation agreement in the “Platte”, a stylish production and department store for fashion design near Alöexanderplatz, with blue tinsel on the ceiling and partition walls made of metal mesh, as is common in modern industrial companies. The perfect backdrop for the high-contrast “Berlin style” that tourists in the capital expect. For each mayor, the artist Klio Karadim painted a picture that is typical of the district, which, when put together, results in the line “We are one Berlin”. Six mayors accepted the invitation to explain the focal points of their tourism strategy.
Clara Herrmann (Greens) from Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg would like to continue promoting “city-friendly and ecological tourism”, i.e. reusable cups at the markets, noise protection for the neighbourhood, bicycle tours through the district and the general announcement: “Sometimes there may be a few fewer guests .” Gordon Lemm (SPD) from Marzahn-Hellersdorf wants to advertise the “longest green corridor in the city” on the Wuhle even more. Martin Hikel (SPD) from Neukölln invites you to the Britzer Garden and wants to “make the villages in the south of Neukölln more visible”. Sören Benn (left) from Pankow cares about “Art Spring”, an art festival that is particularly aimed at tourists. Pankow is also planning a “village tour” on the outskirts of the city. Benn’s motto: “There is also intelligent life outside of the S-Bahn ring.”
For Treptow-Köpenick, Oliver Igel (SPD) rather emphasizes the “non-surprising”, the “closeness to nature”, the large forests and lakes. “Many are surprised that this still belongs to Berlin.” And he relies on history, after all, Köpenick is significantly older than “little sister Berlin”. The district is planning events this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Walther Rathenau, Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic and manufacturer.
Maren Schellenberg (Greens) from Steglitz-Zehlendorf would like to focus even more on the Gründerzeit villas in Lichterfelde-West – “we also have history”, for example the Glienicker Bridge. Spandau was represented by the head of economic development, Patrick Sellerie, who promised a “Gatower Bauernweg” to Berlin’s farms.