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However cliche it may seem, being called the next Paris or Brooklyn or Berlin has become a fast-track ticket to landing in headlines.
Leipzig, a small city one hour south of Berlin, is currently enjoying the press that comes with the title of “the new Berlin.”
In addition to the wave of students, artists and young families moving to the city, which is the fastest growing in Germany, the destination’s reputation is also attracting visitors from around the world.
“The label does help draw more tourism, but it’s not something that we use ourselves,” says Steffi Gretschel, head of international PR for Leipzig Tourism and Marketing.
“Leipzig has had so many nicknames over the centuries. We were called the ‘little Paris’ and the ‘Venice of the North,’ but you need to be careful about which nicknames. I say that we’re the new Leipzig, a city that’s constantly reinventing itself and lives from its great tradition.”
A record 1.5 million visitors came to the city in 2014, a 4 percent increase over 2013.
The majority of tourism growth comes from domestic visitors, which account for 85 percent of all hotel stays. However, Leipzig’s international visitation is also rapidly growing.
International overnights in Leipzig quadrupled in the last 20 years from 99,956 to 434,594 between 1993 and 2013. By comparison, German overnights tripled to 2.4 million in that time.
Americans account for the largest number of overnights stays in Leipzig, which surprisingly puts it above Germany’s neighbors including Switzerland, the UK, Austria and the Netherlands.
“We’re benefitting from a shift in where people want to go,” explains Gretschel.
“They’ve been to Berlin for three times and they’re looking for what’s next. Although we get a lot of business from Europe, overseas markets like China and Brazil will be very big for us. Right now, it’s more second- or third-generation of travelers. They won’t visit us on their first trip to Europe.”
Current visitor statistics suggest that Leipzig is on track for another record year. As of February 2015, overall visitation is up 2.6 percent and international overnights is up 12 percent.