ROMMER’S travel guides turns 60 this year — and the company is celebrating with a competition that winks at its humble beginnings. The creator of the series, American Arthur Frommer, wrote the first guide when he was in the US Army, stationed in Oberammergau, Germany, as an intelligence officer.
It was 1953 when he arrived, and few of his fellow GIs ever ventured off the base in post World War-2 Europe.
Frommer, though, was curious. Being on a tight budget, he used any free time he had to inexpensively explore neighbouring countries, usually by getting a free lift on an Air Force plane.
Eventually, he decided to write a guide that would help his fellow soldiers to explore too.
The GI’s Guide to Travelling in Europe was released in 1955 — Frommer self-published 5 000 copies with money borrowed from relatives. The book was sold at Army Post Exchanges, a type of trading post for soldiers. The first printing sold out on the first day and three reprints followed.
But it was in 1957, after he’d left the army, that Frommer published Europe on 5 Dollars a Day and the internationally beloved brand was born.
Its creator would go on to sell the brand in 1977. After it had changed hands a few times, he bought it back from Google (which had stopped publishing physical books and was concentrating on e-publishing) in 2014. Frommer started bringing books back into print.
“There’s a giant audience of tens of millions of people who have used the Frommer’s travel guides over the past 57 years,” he said at the time.
Now aged 87, he runs the company with his daughter, Pauline.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of