THE Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) has opened a Dubai, its first in the Middle East, to further develop the GCC source markets, according to an official.
“The GCC region is a very important market for us. The number of bednights of Arabian guests in Austria in 2005 was 265,000, which is the same level as the Chinese and Australian guests, both important markets for us. Among overseas markets Arabian countries now rank at number four,” Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director, ANTO – Dubai, told TTN.
He says the office will work closely with the travel trade and will be talking up Austria around the reigon. “We are already co-operating with tour operators in the region for 2007. In February we will organize a series of events presenting Austria’s top destinations and hotels to the travel trade in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Doha,” he says.
Other plans include publishing a new B2C brochure next year to focus on top destinations for the Arab market like Vienna, Salzburg, Zell am See, Gastein, Innsbruck, Kitzbühel and Seefeld, besides running an an outdoor campaign in April to promote summer holidays in Vienna. “We will also re-emphasize on our health and wellcare destinations. Austria has a range of high-end products but they are still unknown in the Middle East.”
The number of visitors from the Middle East to Austria has been steadily increasing, he says. In the year 2004-2005, statistics showed a 57 per cent increase in the number of arrivals from Arab countries, while the first seven months of 2006 were up 23 per cent. Total bednights from January to July were 132,000.
Particular markets the Dubai office will focus on are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. “The UAE are becoming more and more important as a source market and this is reflected in the steadily increasing number of flights between Vienna and Dubai (now 13 per week: Emirates Airlines daily, Austrian Airlines six per week). In addition, China Airlines has established a service between Abu Dhabi and Vienna three times a week,” he says.
On the issue of Schengen visas – getting one is a difficult procedure at the moment, Ehrenbrandtner says his office is ‘steadily fighting’ to facilitate visa applications. “We are confident that – with an office in Dubai – we can increase our impact on that issue to the benefit of our guests.”
The Austrian Tourist Board has been active in the region for years now and has participated in the Arabian Travel Market since its inception in 1995.
by Keith J Fernandez
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