Attracting Jewish Travelers to Germany: A New Travel Initiative
By Steffi Porter
When thinking about the main destinations of interest for Jewish travelers, one may not immediately think of Germany. More than six million Jews and others perished at the hands of the Germany Nazis, so many Jewish people would not dream of a vacation in Germany.
However, the German National Tourist Board (GNBT) is making an effort to not only help Jewish travelers feel more at home, but to encourage more Jewish people to travel there.
As part of a new travel initiative, GNBT has put together an new e-brochure showcasing an abundance of opportunities for Germany’s ever-growing Jewish population as well as those of the Jewish faith traveling from other countries. Whether they are staying in Germany for a while or just passing through, GNBT is working to make the Jewish travelers feel not only welcome in Germany, but entertained by a large amount of tourism options.
Germany for the Jewish Traveler
“Germany for the Jewish Traveler” is an e-brochure launched by the GNTB in late 2013, with the purpose of offering insight into the Jewish history of particular German towns and presenting Jewish travelers with information about travel opportunities in the country.
“Nowadays Germany offers a diverse and lively Jewish life,” said Wibke Carter, head of P.R. for GNTB in North America. “We would like to convey this to our potential guests and are pleased if we can surprise them with unexpected information and offers. That is why we created the brochure for Jewish travelers.”
The Jewish Perspective
Joseph Rosen, a Jewish New Yorker in his 50s, said the idea of German travel specifically marketed towards Jewish people is more appealing than he would have expected. In fact, he had not considered what kinds of travel options there were for Jewish people in the country.
“I was, in the past, one of the people who never would have considered going to Germany,” said Rosen, who is not only a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, but also served in the Israeli Army.
He added that the opportunity to historical sites specifically aimed at Jewish travelers would make a visit to Germany more interesting for him, and that he would consider going, despite how he used to feel about the prospect of traveling to the country.Jewish people have played an important role in Germany for many years, Rosen said, concluding that he hopes they continue to play as significant a role if not more significant as time goes on.
What’s in the brochure?
The brochure provides detailed information about the ten largest German cities: Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, and Stuttgart, plus about other destinations.
This information includes the Jewish history of these cities, and the contact information and locations of local Jewish institutes like museums, synagogues, kosher restaurants, community centers and more. It is available in both English and Italian online.
The brochure is full of unique travel tips and information about Jewish culture, Jewish life and places of interest to Jewish travelers, as part of a global travel campaign being launched by the GNBT specifically aimed at travelers with Jewish heritage.
Do Jewish travelers want to visit Germany?
According to Carter, GNBT statistics show that Jewish travelers are not hesitant about traveling there–quite the opposite, actually.Over the past year they registered an increase of 15.4% from Israel, and Carter says that Germany is an increasingly popular travel destination especially for younger Israeli travelers.
“I think there are definitely still some (Jewish people) who have an aversion to going to Germany,” Rosen said. “For reasons that are very understandable, I’m sure there are jews that are hesitant about visiting.”
Rosen also said that he thinks there are probably fewer people with that perspective now, especially in the younger generation, as they are “less inclined to focus on the past.”
“The German government has done whatever they could to make amends to the jewish people,” Rosen said, adding that many Jewish people would never consider going to Germany, but that there are likely fewer who think that way now.
“I was impressed that they were so sensitive to this subject,” Rosen said of the program. “I would consider doing a tour in Germany.”
For starters, the country has the third-largest Jewish community in Western Europe, and their Jewish population is continuing to grow, as do the numbers of Jewish travelers going to Germany.
“Here, Jewish life can be witnessed and relived through unique museums, memorials, exhibitions, religious sites, historic places and events,” said Carter.
Carter says there are “countless” travel destinations in connection with Jewish culture in Germany, mainly in its larger cities.Berlin, for example, has the biggest German Jewish community, the Holocaust memorial, the Jewish Museum, the synagogue in Oranienburger Street and is the largest city in Germany.
“The brochure is aimed at helping interested travelers in planning their stay in or their trip through Germany, and is a key element in the campaign for travelers with Jewish descent initiated by the GNTB,” said Carter.
What do Jewish Travelers think of this unique initiative? So far, the feedback has been consistently positive. Since the brochure was posted on the GNTB’s website last year, it has been opened more than 2,300 times with 62,000 page visits. The largest interest has come from Jewish populations in the USA and Israel.
“The travel tips brochure for Jewish travelers is an important contribution particularly in view of the preparations underway to celebrate the anniversary of 50 years German -Israeli relations in 2015” said Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board.
According to Rosen, the German Government has done a lot to make sure it is not forgotten what happened under the Nazis, and that they are doing a lot for the Jewish community.
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Steffi Porter is a creative writer and journalist who has written for The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hearst Newspapers and the Houston Chronicle. She is a former writer and editor for her college paper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and a graduate of the Institute for Political Journalism and the Fund for American Studies.