Austria sees record ME visitor arrivals

DESPITE the economic slow down, 2009 is proving to be a record year for Austrian Tourism with regards to arrivals from the Middle East.
“As per the latest data available, we welcomed 102,100 tourists from the Middle East in 2008, a growth of 11.7 per cent as compared to 2007. In January alone this year, we have seen over 3,000 arrivals, a very encouraging start to the year considering we are yet to see the peak during summer holidays,” said Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director, Middle East, Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO).
Over the last five years since ANTO set up a representative office in Dubai, traffic from the region has increased by 160 per cent. Although the Middle East represents a fraction of Austria’s international tourist arrivals (over 21.9 million in 2008), the Arab tourist is the world’s highest spending traveller, with 81 per cent choosing to stay in four and five star properties and averaging a spend of Dh8,873 ($2,415) per trip – almost triple the average global average of $887.
Ehrenbrandtner said that part of ANTO’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has not let up its marketing efforts or reduced its budget this year despite all the challenges the industry has faced since last July.
“Trade partnerships and education are the key areas ANTO is focused on; we recently concluded a GCC wide road show where we introduced Austrian tourism players to travel agents in the Middle East”.
The Austrian Certified Travel Specialist (ACTS) programme is an online destination course operated by ANTO. “Last year, we had 250 ACTS graduates from the Middle East; this year 1,000 people have registered and we hope to have 500 graduates,” said Charlotte Newby, marketing manager Middle East, ANTO.