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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.