Nearly 100,000 Middle Eastern travellers stayed overnight in Austria last year, a figure up 20 per cent over the previous year.
Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director of Middle East for the Austrian National Tourist Office, told media at this year's Arabian Travel Market that the region's biggest growth area was the Gulf. "People in the Gulf have specific ideas about what they want from their holidays and in Austria they can escape the heat and stay in a mountain climate," he said.
Vienna alone received half that number with 48,000. Visitors from the region are drawn to three main destinations, Vienna, Salzburg and Zell Am See, but new on the map are the Gastein Valley, Carinthia and picturesque Kitzbühel.
As connections improve with increased capacity from regional carriers as well as a new route from Saudi Arabia and double daily Dubai-Vienna flights from Austrian Airlines later this year, regional visitor numbers to the central European country will only rise.
Another contributory factor will be the UEFA Euro 2008, the European football championships, being held in Austria and Switzerland this month.
Arabic and English brochures are available from the ANTO, as well as training agents on selling the country with its Austria Certified Travel Specialist (ACTS) programme.
One of the top ten tourist destinations in the world, Austria expects 60 million bed nights in total in 2008.
By Clark Kelly