Date: Fri Jun 03 2005 - 10:20:34 EDT
http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=586742005 Scotland on Sunday Sun 29 May 2005 Small town capitalises on comrades' love of Marx ALLAN HALL A SMALL town in Germany has become a magnet for Chinese visitors, flocking to pay homage at the birthplace of Karl Marx. So many Chinese now travel to Trier for the pilgrimage that Chinese has ousted English and French on local language courses. Shop and restaurant staff are desperate to learn the language of the new rich, who have money to spend. Squeezed between the Klaus Müller hairdressing salon and Rachid doner kebab shop, the bourgeois birthplace of Marx lies at No 10, Brückenstrasse. On average the Chinese visitors spend two minutes at the cathedral, three minutes at Porta Nigra - a gate built by the Romans - and three minutes at a local museum. Marx commands an average visit of 15 minutes - and often much longer. Nearly 30,000 overnight stays were registered in the town by Chinese visitors last year and tens of thousands more came for the day on buses, trains and in rented cars. Tourist information chief Patricia Ellendt said: "They have been wonderfully good for local capitalism with their visits to the birthplace of communism's founder. Most make a beeline for the place without looking left or right." Local language schools offer 10-hour crash courses in Chinese, teaching basic phrases as well as customs - the correct way to say hello, goodbye and 'Do you want that gift-wrapped?' "Ten hours is not going to make you fluent, but hospitality plays a big part in Chinese life and if people make an effort to speak the language, Chinese people feel honoured," said Chang Tsun Hwa, a local teacher. Trier anticipates a growing influx, with tourism analysts predicting 80 million Chinese will take overseas holidays in the next decade. Michael Möller, the head of Trier's largest men's clothing store, said: "The Chinese are very cautious with their money. They want a bargain, but if they do want something they will have it. They leave here with many things." TUI China, a joint venture between Europe's biggest travel company and a Chinese partner, offers tailor-made holidays where visitors take a course in German traffic signs and law before they get behind the wheel of a powerful car to take a high-speed holiday driving through Germany. "The Chinese love to travel as fast as possible," said Guido Brettschneider of TUI China, adding that autobahns with no speed limit were a special attraction.
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