World's biggest spending tourists named

Germans spent more money on foreign trips than tourists from any other nation last year, the national tourism body DRV says.

Germans shelled out "nearly $US85 billion" (A$131 billion) on trips in 2008, DRV president Klaus Laepple said in a speech on Tuesday introducing the world's largest travel fair which opens in Berlin on Wednesday.

This total -- $US7 billion more than in 2007 -- combines the amount spent on transport as well as money spent at the holiday destination, Laepple added.

The most popular destination for Germans was Spain, with around 10 million tourists travelling there last year, followed by Italy and Austria.

Laepple said the tourism industry was beginning to feel the "first effects" of the global economic downturn, but added it was too soon to draw general conclusions.

"Germans are in general not giving up their holidays," he said.

Tour operators are nevertheless beginning to reduce capacity, anticipating weaker demand.

However, the sector in general "remains optimistic," Laepple said.