Overnight stays in Hamburg alone rose by 140 per cent in the past 25 years. In 2006, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg reached a record 7.2m hotel overnight stays. This ranks Hamburg as number 13 in a comparison of European cities - ahead of capital cities such as Lisbon, Brussels, Stockholm or Copenhagen.
The Hamburg Metropolitan Region as a whole attracts around 6.8m guests a year, who stay for 17m nights. The proportion of visitors from abroad was 12 per cent in 2006 in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and 21.7 per cent in Hamburg. The majority of foreign visitors came from Europe (16.2 per cent), followed by guests from America (2.9 per cent) and Asia (2.1 per cent). But day trips in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region also play an important role. Hamburg played host to 105 million one-day visitors in 2005, who spent EUR 4.3m during their stay. More than 140,000 people in Hamburg work directly or indirectly in tourism.
No end to the boom is in sight. Increasing mobility and the short-trip trend, as well as dazzling future projects such as "BallinStadt - Emigrant World Hamburg", HafenCity or the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, can be expected to lead to further growth in coming years.
The Hamburg Metropolitan Region is also unparalleled on the cultural front. Hamburg is one of Europe’s leading centres of the arts. Ten million people enjoy the state-subsidised theatres and museums every year – including the Deutsche Schauspielhaus, Thalia theatre, Laiezhalle concert hall and the Hamburg Staatsoper. World famous conductors and musical directors, such as Simone Young or Christoph von Dohnányi, make Hamburg a music capital. Hamburg is also one of the world’s outstanding homes of musical theatre, outdone only by New York and London.
The region’s cultural range is also a big factor in encouraging visitors to return here again and again. From "Kunstgriff" in Dithmarschen with its ambitious exhibitions of regional artists, to the Wendland country arts festival and the internationally known Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival – there is an almost endless range of cultural opportunities.
The maritime influence, too, is a significant influence on the popularity of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. "Hamburg on the Elbe" is known world wide: the term conjures up both modern seafaring, with vast container ships and giant cruise vessels, and the inimitable atmosphere around the port. HafenCity, the newest of more than 100 urban districts, is being built from scratch and covers an area of around 155 hectares.
The Elbe is also a sought-after recreation area; the many natural primeval landscapes along the river are visited by many millions of tourists and day visitors. In the Lower Elbe Maritime Landscape valuable evidence of the maritime heritage are preserved and used to develop the potential of the countryside, tourism and local recreation. The region is also surrounded by two seas, the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The Wadden Sea national park on the North Sea cost is the largest of its kind between the North Pole and Sicily.
The quality of life in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region offers Hamburgers and their visitors beats almost anywhere else in Germany. Good things are always within reach here.