THE actb (Austrian and Central European Travel Business), Austria’s biggest tourism trade show, was staged for the second time at Messe Wien in Vienna in January.
The relaunch of the event in 2007 may have been accompanied by a dose of skepticism, but demand for stands at the actb’s second edition shows was high in demonstrating that the fair has already established itself as a fixture on the tourism trade fair calendar.
This year 338 stands were rented against 302 in 2007, reflecting the positive reaction to the addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia as exhibiting nations. Exhibitors from Tyrol in particular were a prominent presence with 38 stands.
Demand on the buyer side remained stable. This year 852 buyers from 58 countries and 173 journalists from 40 nations visited the show. Taking part at actb were provincial tourism organisations or associations, regional associations, tour operators, incoming travel agencies, carriers, event and convention centres, hotel groups and representations and those from the food and beverage industry.
Petra Stolba, chief executive officer of the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) said, “The actb’s second year with increased demand for stand space is eloquent confirmation that the relaunch is a win-win situation for all.”
The 2008 actb’s extraordinary theme was the UEFA European Football Championship. The event was being promoted in co-operation with the host cities, provincial tourism organisations, Switzerland Tourism and Intersport.
The opening evening in Vienna’s Rathaus revolved around the biggest sporting event in Austria’s history: the UEFA European Football Championship. Christian Schmoelzer, tournament director Austria for UEFA EM 2008, brought the Henri Delaunay Trophy, the actual UEFA European Football Championship cup, along to the gala, and underscored the close relationship with the Austrian host cities – Innsbruck, Salzburg, Klagenfurt and Vienna.
Petra Stolba expressed her anticipation saying, “We have the chance – indeed the responsibility – of presenting ourselves as friendly and enthusiastic, in short, the perfect hosts.”
Coming attractions causing a stir were Linz, due to become the European City of Culture in 2009, and the Haydn anniversary, which occur the same year just after the football frenzy.
Interest was great among actb participants after pre-convention tours to Linz and locations associated with the life of the great composer in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. A third pre actb tour was dedicated to football and Salzburg: the city of Salzburg and provincial tourist board invited all those taking part in actb to a “Football Festival for Europe”.
This year’s actb took place for the first time in Hall A of Reed Messe. Also for the first time, smoking was banned throughout the entire exhibition venue, with the exception of its three cafes.
Another new feature was the joint press conference held by the Danube Tourist Commission, and the actb’s partner countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. The central theme of the international press conference was the impact on tourism of Schengen Zone enlargement.