Carmen (Lufthansa), Traute (Magic Cities Germany), Virginia (GNTB), Jasmin (Frankfurt Tourist Board), Maike (GNTB), Ralf (visitBerlin), DJ Chris Bekker Berlin: always redeveloping Aussie travellers continued their love affair with Germany in 2010 as 613,212 Australians visited the country, reflecting an increase of 27 per cent on 2009 and the second highest internationally after China. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be hosted in Germany this year, as well as ongoing celebrations surrounding the 125th anniversary of the motor car, this trend is expected to continue in 2011 with first quarter figures showing an increase of 18 per cent on last year. German National Tourist Office’s (GNTO) sales and marketing representative in Australia, Virginia Haddon, said the figures would be “even higher” if the large number of river cruising guests were included in the statistics, which only take into account land-based accommodation. “Local tour operators advise us that Australians booking river cruises account for approximately 20 per cent of their European departures,” Ms Haddon said. Ms Haddon also pointed to the strong Australian dollar as making Germany “extremely affordable” and attractive to Australians at present, as well as the Australian Matildas contesting this year’s World Cup. Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at this week’s GNTO event in Sydney, Frankfurt Tourist Board’s international marketing manager Jasmin Bischoff said the city was already in “party mode” ahead of the World Cup. Ms Bischoff also spoke at length about Frankfurt’s thriving music scene, referencing the CocoonClub – founded by the “father of techno” Sven Vath – and the city’s famous jazz scene. visitBerlin director of sales Ralf Ostendorf told e-Travel Blackboard his city was “the way New York used to be”, although according to the German, Berlin now had more hotel rooms than the Big Apple. “The old airstrip has been taken over by artists and skateboarders – it’s an organic city that’s always redeveloping,” Mr Ostendorf said. Meanwhile, overall international visitor arrivals into the country are also burgeoning, with the total number of overnight stays in 2010 passing the 60 million mark for the first time. “Provided the market continues to perform well and with our targeted, customer-focused marketing to build upon, it is realistic to predict that overnight stays by visitors from abroad will pass the 80 million mark in the next ten years,” GNTB chief executive Petra Hedorfer commented from Germany. In 2012, the German National Tourist Office will be focusing on the local wine industry and business travel.