Dieter Hütte: The distance so close – Tourist destinations by the gates of Berlin

Still in Berlin’s city centre – in the next second you are on a short trip in Bran­den­­burg. Not only city dwellers un­­wind just outside of the capital, guests from all over Germany as well as travellers, for example, from the Netherlands, Poland and England, Switzerland and Austria come here, too. The tourism in­­dustry could realize positive results in 2008. An in­­crease by three per cent in arrivals and by 2.4 per cent in overnight stays allowed Brandenburg to clearly pass the 10-million limit even in economically difficult times.

Travellers coming here associate the “state around Berlin” and its twelve destinations with the home of the poet Fontane, Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam and the history of the Prussian kings, but also with the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Spree­­wald. Ever since the film “Good bye, Lenin!” at the latest, the Spreewald gherkin has been known everywhere.
Having 33 kilometres of watercourses and about 3,000 lakes – as many as Finland – Brandenburg is the German state with the most inland water. Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the waterways in the “blue paradise” of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have again become freely trafficable and they now form the biggest water sports area in Europe. In addition, the connection of several lakes with navi-gable canals until 2020 and an extensive path network will trans­­form the former brown coal opencast mines in Lower Lusatia into a lake district with an expanse of water measuring about 5,500 hectares.
But Brandenburg is not only known for nature and water tourism, but also for culture. The state capital, Pots­­dam, is a universal artwork with 17 palaces. The cultural landscapes were included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1990. Potsdam has more attractions in addition Sanssouci Palace, the summer residence of Frederick II of Prussia, like the restored baroque city centre, the Dutch Quarter or the modern culture location Schiff­­bauer­­gasse. Cineastes visit the traditional movie location of Babelsberg, where international productions are still filmed today.

 

Konzert-auf-dem-Pfingstberg-Potsdam-_135-Pfingstberg

All over Brandenburg there are palaces, parks and gardens of the Prussian kings. Like the palace of Oranienburg, site of the state garden festival 2009, park and pal­­ace of Branitz, where Count Hermann von Pückler-Muskau created a park in the English style.

Frederick II spent his youth in the rococo residence Schloss Rheinsberg (Rheins­­berg Palace). Later his brother Henry turned the palace into a court of muses – which is being revived today with performances of the Music Academy and the chamber opera Schloss Rheinsberg.

As one of the first three federal states, Brandenburg has already been involved with the ServiceQualität initiative since 2002. The primary aim is the sustainable and continuous improvement of the tourist service providers. In a three-stage pro­­cess, the participants qualify for the seal of quality with a “Q”, to be able to deal with their customers’ needs in an even better way and to improve their own com­­petitiveness. In Branden­­burg, many tour operators, hotels and restaurants have committed themselves to the Service­Qualität Deutschland. 160 en­­terprises with a seal of quality of the level I prove that. With 22 level II enterprises, Bran­­den­­burg is leading in Ger­­many. And with three companies in level III we are in second place behind Baden-Württemberg.


Schloss-Sanssouci,-Potsdam-_BO_57_99

he ServiceQualität is also being introduced in the field of business travel, which is of special importance for Bran­­denburg. The TMB Tourismus-Marke­­ting Brandenburg GmbH has integrated the segment of meetings, incentive, con­­ven­­tion and events into the state’s tourism concept. A MICE network was established for the central co-ordination. More than 30 partners such as hotels, special lo­­ca­­tions and service providers, who are all partners of the Bran­­denburg Con­­ven­­tion Office, have joined forc­­es in this net­­work. The network part­­ners’ joint commitment to ServiceQualität ensures the intensive co-ordination of all services and at the same time the custom­­er gets a def­­inite promise for quality. In summer 2009, 19 more members of the network were already awarded the level 1 quality seal.

The proximity to Berlin, the potential of the natural landscape with lakes, rivers and big nature parks and the cultural offer for tourists provide the best conditions for events, seminars or work­­shops in Bran­den­­burg. After all, meeting history was written here in the past al­­ready: when Frederick the Great phi­­los­­o­­phized with the great thinkers of his time in Sanssouci, or in Potsdam’s Cecilienhof palace, where the three major allies decided on the fate of postwar Ger­­many during the Potsdam Con­­ference in summer 1945.


Schloss-Rheinsberg_MU015099

Today the landscape still provides the distance and tranquillity you need to clear your head of everyday working life and to make decisions with foresight. Modern facilities and a variety of programmes provide the basic conditions. So far, Ribbeck in the Havelland region was mainly known for Theodor Fontane’s poem about the pear tree – now Ribbeck manor is distinguishing itself as a conference location with first class cuisine and modern event technology. You can enjoy Brandenburg’s life in the country in the restored four-sided farmyard “Land­­­­haus Alte Schmiede”; here, too, a lively pro­­gramme in the con­­ference room, in the winter garden or in the banquet barn guarantee a successful event.

The hotels each provide the top class con­­vention and accommodation offer and co-operate with incentive and supporting pro­­gramme providers as well as special locations. Be it a trip on a raft in Lychen, a sa­­fa­­ri with an electric car to the Börn­­icke castle grounds and estate, a trip into the industrial history of the Mil­­den­berg brick­­yard park or a shooting day in Europe’s oldest film park, Babelsberg – there are manifold incentive programmes. Due to the opening of the Metropolis Hall in the Babels­­berg film park last year, there is now also a location for events with up to 5,000 par­­ti­­cipants – a multifunctional studio for con­­ventions, galas, presenta­­tions and TV pro­­ductions.
The 20th anniversary of the “Fall of the Ber­­lin Wall” is a reason to make it clear to our­­selves how the infrastruc­­ture for tourism and the range of offers have develop­­ed in Brandenburg since the fall of the Berlin Wall. With cultur­­al high­­lights from “Potsdamer Schlös­­s­­er­­nacht” (“night of the castles”) to the summer concerts of Bran­­den­­­­burg, with several holi­­day home parks and resorts like the IFA Hafendorf Rheins­­­­berg, a varied wellness and thermal spring scenery, first class cuisine, aquatic and natural attractions and with the mentioned meeting opportunities, Bran­­­­den­­­­burg has become a short-trip destination for the sophisticated customer. A destination that stands for excellent service and becomes a place of tranquillity and vision for guests and customers.

Dieter_HuetteThe author has been the managing director of the Tourismus-Marketing Bran­­den­­burg GmbH since 1998. Dieter Hütte was born in Olpe in 1958 and after graduating from school in Bonn, he studied geography. He has been working in the field of tourism since 1987 and from 1992 to 1998 he was the Spa Ad­­min­­istration Director in Baiersbronn.