BERLIN HOPES TO REOPEN TO TOURISTS BY END OF MAY
After months of lockdown, Berlin's tourism industry isn't seeing much hope in the city's recently announced plans to allow restaurants and cafes to resume serving customers outdoors towards the end of May, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
"This is first and foremost a ray of hope for Berliners," said the managing director of the city's tourism marketing company Visit Berlin, Burkhard Kieker. "The essential step for us is a lifting of the ban on overnight stays."
And yet a Berlin summer getaway may yet become an option again for some in the coming months, and Berlin mayor Michael Mueller said on Tuesday he sees a chance that hotels will be allowed to host tourists again from mid-June onwards.
Tourism in the German capital and much of Germany has been rendered effectively impossible, even for those hoping to travel within Germany, due to strict restrictions or forced closures in hotels, restaurants, and museums.
Just two years after Berlin's 17th consecutive record tourism year, when the number of overnight stays rose to 34.1 million, Berlin remains largely empty of international travelers at a time when its bars, museums, and historic sites would normally be bustling with tourists.
However, vaccinations have picked up pace in Germany as infection rates declined in recent weeks. "We are looking optimistically to the summer," Kieker says.
"This year's tourism competition will be decided by the vaccination rate, not by who has the most beautiful catalog."
Kieker expects guests from abroad to return to Berlin this summer - especially from neighboring countries, starting with Poland. He is more skeptical about tourists from overseas.
Meanwhile, in the south of Germany, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder declared at the start of May that his state would be open again for tourists this month amid hopes that the worst of the pandemic might be over for the country.