View from Europe: Rediscovering the US as a Destination

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jul 10, 2009 / 0 comments

Travelers rarely think of people coming TO their country. Of course, though, people travel the world over. I've recently found a great set of sites from Europe (Germany, in particular) that shows how Europeans are rediscovering the US as a destination. The creator of these sites, Lars Hoffman, is General Manager of Americanet Travel Marketing. He also has created a travel site,, that shares information about the US; and a travel site,, that shares ranch vacation locations in the US.  HOW COOL IS THIS?  Lars provides such an interesting viewpoint about travel to the US that I just love visiting his sites and exploring how Europeans view the US - and WHERE they want to go!

We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Lars about travel to the US, learning about our own country, the future of travel to the US, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE:  Please tell us about your businesses in Germany...

LH: It all started more than ten years ago when I started a comprehensive portal site about all things American. I love America so I wanted to bring as much as possible into one website, travel and history, arts and politics, economics and oddities. Today, is one of the most visited German language information websites on foreign countries. We have top listings on Google for key search terms, so there are thousands of new visitors every month.

Based on the success of  Americanet, I've founded Americanet Travel Marketing in 2008. We do PR, representation and marketing work for US destinations, travel service providers and hospitality businesses on the European market. Foreign travelers are always more likely to book or buy when there's somebody there who speaks their language, that's why it's important to have representation on a market you want to sell to.

This year, we have launched our newest product,, a German language resource for travelers interested in ranch vacations in America.



WE: From a European point of view, what do you think travelers from abroad can learn from our country?

LH:  Well, obviously intercultural exchanges are always fruitful for both sides. It always strikes me how Americans can cope with difficult circumstances, simply by accepting what has happened and looking for a new opportunity elsewhere. In Europe, in many cases the first thing people do when something unfortunate happens to them is start complaining about how the government doesn't provide any help for their situation. On the other hand, you hear constant complaints about how much the government regulates everyday life. Americans believe in their own strenght and in their ability to take care of themselves. That always impresses me.



WE: How can travelers still travel well in this world-wide problem with the economy?

LH: This is one of the main reasons I always give my customers when they ask why marketing to the German language markets of Europe is so essential. Germans have been the most active people in terms of travel for decades. Research has shown numerous times that Germans will cut budgets for many things in economic hardship but they won't cut back on travel. Many vacations have been planned months ago when things weren't as bad as they are today, others deliberately decide on vacationing right now because they want to get away from the everyday struggle work has become. Travel always means a chance to learn, to explore and to make new contacts, so hopefully for some people traveling right now means opening a door they didn't know about previously.

As you know, European travel to America is my everyday business and it serves as a good example here: Airfares to the USA are comparatively cheap right now, gas prices in America are much lower than in Europe and shopping overseas also brings significantly lower prices. So there are good reasons for leisure travel in these times, too.



WE: What do you expect for the future development of travel to America?

LH: Right now, we're seeing a number of factors working together in favor of US travel for Europeans. In addition to the facts mentioned before, there is what we call the "Obama factor". The new President enjoys enormous popularity in Europe, especially if compared to his predecessor. His election alone has done a lot to improve America's image in the world and this brings rising interest in traveling to this country. For example, the numbers of Germans traveling to the USA have risen quickly since the beginning of the year. That's a promising sign because travel from Germany, while slightly rising over the years, has not had the same growth rates as travel from other countries to the US.



WE:  What do you think has to be done for the US to increase international travel?

LH: Travel is a very important factor for the American economy, so investing in this field will certainly pay off soon. As for tourist attractions and the way they are presented to tourists, America is top of the list. The same goes for accommodation, dining and shopping. The two areas I am concerned about are 1) that many visitors feel it's becoming more and more difficult to enter the country due to security regulations  and 2) the lack of available promotion for lesser known destinations.

Now is the time where a lot of first-time visitors travel to the US and these are the visitors you need to make come back a second and third time, so you need to get them interested in destinations beyond New York City, Las Vegas and Florida. Other longhaul destinations invest much more in international marketing and are significantly more visible PR-wise. America runs the risk of losing market shares to these destinations. Travel is the area in which growth can be generated regardless of the economically tough time and it's pretty well possible this growth could also have effects on other industries.



WE: Thanks so very much, Lars! It is fascinating to get an insider's (and European's) perspective on travel to the US.

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