|Be Friendly, Germans Urged Before World Cup
08 March 2006
BERLIN: The soccer World Cup offers Germany an excellent opportunity to boost tourism and its sluggish economy but Germans must first shed their reputation for unfriendliness, officials said today.
"We have an interest in ensuring that those people in the world with preconceptions about Germany shed them," Economy Minister Michael Glos said at a presentation of a national "service and friendliness" campaign.
"We don't have a reputation as the friendliest of people but we can prove to the world that this image is not true, that we are a very friendly country."
With only three months to go until the month-long tournament starts with a match between Germany and Costa Rica in Munich, organisers are stepping up efforts to convince the man in the street that he has a stake in making the event a success.
Glos and soccer great Franz Beckenbauer unveiled a television spot and billboard showing dozens of Germans rolling out red carpets for the estimated one to 1.5 million visitors.
"We have a huge opportunity to show Germany is not just a soccer country but a tourist destination," said Klaus Laepple, president of the German tourism industry association (BTW).
Although Germans can be friendly and helpful to tourists, the country is not known for its service and Berlin, where the World Cup final will be played, is notorious for its surly, inattentive waiters.
"We are known for our organisational talents and punctuality," said Christoph Bergner, state secretary in the German Interior Ministry, which has special responsibility for sports. "Unfortunately we are not viewed as especially friendly and therefore have a special challenge with the World Cup."
Once Europe's economic powerhouse, Germany has suffered a slump in growth in recent years and some officials see the tournament as a way to give a fragile recovery extra momentum.
The campaign is aimed at getting all service industries – from hotels and airports to public transport firms – "fit" for the tournament starting on June 9.
They can jump on the World Cup bandwagon by purchasing posters, stickers and banners at an Internet site set up by the organisers.
Special training books are being supplied to people working in service industries in Germany, giving them valuable tips on how and how not to treat visitors from the 32 participant countries.
For example, they are instructed to address Australians with "G'day" and to avoid giving them the V-shaped victory sign.
"When the palm is pointed outward, this can be a rude insult for Australians," the manual says.
Maintained by: German Club
Copyright © 2006 Klassengroßpa
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED