After 25 years of separating east from west, the Berlin Wall finally came down in 1989. For two and a half decades, Berlin was but a shadow of its former self. Previously cut off from the rest of the world, Berlin is now the glowing jewel of a united Germany and barely recognizable from those dark times.
Tourism While the Berlin Wall Still Stood
While the wall continued to cast its imposing shadow over East Berlin, tourism was extremely limited. Citizens from both sides of the wall had to apply for visas.
Further compounding the issue was the debacle that was currency exchange. Western money was no good in the socialist east and needed to be exchanged. Returning through the Berlin Wall was similarly problematic in that it was forbidden to take any East German Marks into the west.
Residents of East Germany had an even more difficult time. Visas were hard to come by because the government feared that anybody leaving East Germany would not return.
Tourism in Berlin Without the Wall
The reunification of Germany was a global celebration, and since the tumbling of the Berlin Wall, tourism has been on the rise.
The city of Berlin is now a thriving metropolis. In 1989, Berlin catered to 2.4 million guests. In 2014, that number had ballooned to just over 11.3 million.
During 1989, the year of the fall, international guests accounted for just 27% of all visitors. In 2013, the numbers grew to well over 40%.
Tourism is now one of Berlin's biggest exports, providing a massive boon to the local economy with hundreds of thousands of supporting jobs.
World Heritage Sites
Before 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, West Germany had eight designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Today that number stands at 46.
National and International hotel companies are developing hotels and restaurants to the point where travelers between east and west cannot detect any difference in service standards.
Twenty-thousand hotels equate to around 800,000 rooms and 1.5 million beds catering to all levels of travel budget.
Museum Island has been upgraded, along with restoration to the City Palace, and the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg is a must-see attraction for classical music lovers.
The art scene is alive and well, with towns like Leipzig, Schwerin, Halle, and Magdeburg, presenting a vibrant art scene to international travelers.
Countryside deemed worthy of protection in Germany since 1970 has grown from four to sixteen national parks since the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall and reunification, with seven of those located within the former GDR.
There's no doubt that the fall of the Berlin Wall has helped transform Germany's tourism industry into a significant economic contributor. It is sure to continue to benefit from an influx of public and private investment in the coming years.
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