Austria makes ‘smart’ moves on its fastest growing market

AUSTRIA as a tourism nation has seen tourism develop in leaps and bounds in the past few years. The country hosted 33.4 million international guests who accomplished 124.9 million overnights in 2010.

Austria has been amongst the top 15 destinations worldwide when it comes to international tourism arrivals and international tourism receipts for the last 10 years, according to UNWTO figures.  In 2010, Austria ranked third in tourism revenues per capita.

The Middle East is the fastest growing overseas market for Austrian tourism, says Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director Middle East of the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO). “The number of guests from this region has quadrupled in the last 10 years. 2011 will be another record year and we confidently expect more steady growth in the future,” he says.

“Also, guests from the Middle East are the biggest spenders when it comes to accommodation during their stay in Austria. More than 65 per cent of our guests from this region choose to stay in a four- or five-star hotel. From January to September, 2011 we welcomed more guests from the Middle East than we did in 2010 (which already was a record year). We are very confident to have more arrivals from the Middle East than Switzerland had this year.”

Austria is true paradise with unspoilt nature, snow-covered mountain-tops, rolling hills, green meadows and many lakes, rivers and waterfalls. On the other hand the country is rich in cultural history which one can absorb in romantic cities like Vienna, Salzburg or Innsbruck. And the beauty is that both are very close and one can travel from a historic city centre to the wildlife of mountains and lakes literally within minutes.

Earlier this year, the tourism board announced its smartphone application called the iAustria travel guide. “We’ve already seen the results as many guests have already downloaded the application and used it for their trip to Austria in 2011,” says Ehrenbrandtner.

The application is a travel guide especially designed for tourists from the Middle East. It is in Arabic and covers family attractions, sights, shopping tips and an overview of many restaurants including those with halal food. It is much more interactive than any travel guide book and completely for free. Anybody with an iPhone, Blackberry or any Android Smartphone can download it.”

Looking ahead, Ehrenbrandtner said there are plans to introduce a new destination to the Middle East market. “The Ötztal Valley in Tirol, which is one of Austria’s key tourism destination internationally but not so known in the region yet. The Ötztal Valley offers many attractions that are tailor-made for guests from this region: For example a glacier that can be visited all year round and Area 47, the most spectacular adventure park in the Alps covering an area of 66,000 sq m. Furthermore, there will be many new stunning five-star hotels opening, especially in our capital, Vienna,” he says.