American Express Opens Office in Former East Germany
DRESDEN, Germany (AP) _ American Express opened its first travel bureau in former East Germany Wednesday, returning to a region where the company had its first traveler’s check cashed almost 100 years ago.
″Destinations in former East bloc countries could be the travel destinations of the ’90s. The problem is we don’t have sufficient hotels or airport capacity or trained staff,″ said Juergen Aumueller, president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the company’s travel services division.
Aumueller called on others in the travel industry to invest in the region, ″because the travel industry could be critical to the economies″ of East European countries.
American Express said it found a good location for its new office in Dresden, a city 120 miles south of Berlin. But Aumueller said real estate problems following the merger of formerly Communist East Germany with West Germany had blocked the company’s plans to open bureaus in eastern Berlin and Leipzig.
Leipzig, 60 miles west of Dresden, was where American Express president James C. Fargo cashed the company’s first traveler’s check on Aug. 5, 1891, in the Hotel Hauffe.
The Dresden office will cash traveler’s checks, make travel arrangements and offer former East Germans the chance to apply for credit cards. American Express officials said 1,200 former East Germans had already applied for cards, despite generally despressed economic conditions in the former Communist-run region.
Aumueller said an annual income of $30,000 was required for a card in western Germany, but that requirement would be relaxed for applicants in the east.