Sven Latteyer
Bus driver Sven Latteyer welcomed refugees to Germany in an impromptu speech which has gone viralSven Latteyer

A German bus driver has become famous after he made an impromptu speech to welcome a group of migrants to the country.

"Excuse me ladies and gentlemen from all over the world on this bus, I want to say something," driver Sven Latteyer announced in English to passengers on his number 286 bus in the Bavarian city of Erlangen.

"I want to say welcome. Welcome to Germany, welcome to my country. Have a nice day!"

An anonymous passenger said travellers – which included locals as well as around 15 asylum seekers – burst into spontaneous applause, telling local newspaper the Nürnberger Nachrichten: "One of the young African guys wiped a tear from his eye."

News of the speech spread, with newscaster Claus Kleber appearing to be reduced to tears as he reported on the story.

After the 42-year-old Latteyer was identified, he told the media that he had decided to make the greeting as a show of support for the refugees arriving in Germany.

Latteyer explained that he was inspired by his grandfather who lost his arm in World War II, and his brother-in-law, who fled to Germany from the conflict in Kosovo.

"My brother-in-law doesn't talk a lot about the years 1998 and 1999 when the war was raging in Kosovo. He's trying to forget the horror," he told German website nordbayern.de.

The gesture has struck a chord in a country that has taken in record amounts of asylum seekers following the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

In April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged EU countries to take more refugees. Around 180,000 people claimed asylum in Germany during the first half of 2015 – double the number who did so in the same period in 2014.

Some areas have seen tensions between locals and asylum seekers, with a surge in attacks on migrants' accommodation being carried out by far-right groups across the country.