Austria celebrates a record year

Austria... popular destination for visitors from the Middle East

SET up to promote Austria as a tourist destination, the efforts of the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) over recent years have clearly paid off, with increased tourism reflected in record figures in 2011. Austria has ranked in the Top 12 in terms of tourism revenue worldwide and tourist arrivals worldwide and in the top three in terms of tourist revenues per capita throughout the last few years (source: UNWTO).

This increase is also reflected in the Middle Eastern market with the number of overnights in 2011 compared to 2010 increasing by 28.5 per cent and the number of arrivals to Austria increasing by 33.3 per cent. While 2010 was a record year, the number of guests from the Middle East, primarily the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, increased by one third in 2011, setting a new record and establishing the region as the fastest growing overseas market for Austrian Tourism.

Over the last ten years, the number of overnights from the Middle Eastern market has increased by 309 per cent. An impressive figure in itself, these numbers take on a new significance when you compare them to competing destinations. The last ten years has seen Austria’s market share from the region increase dramatically with the number of overnights now double that of Switzerland and 50 per cent larger than in Germany. 

With such success, the regional tourism boards of Austria have no doubt championed the cause with destinations such as Vienna, Salzburg and Tyrol being incredibly pro-active. The Viennese hotel industry made a record contribution to the national economy generating more than one million bed nights which translated in to €446.7 million ($588.6 million) between January and November, 2011. The five new hotels set to open in 2012 and 2013, including The Palais Hansen Kempinski, will support the increase and allow for an even high number of visitors in the future.

Salzburg’s theme to attract summer visitors is ‘Health in the Hill Country’ revolving around healthy produce, refined and served by Salzburg farmers. With 154 certified ‘Summer in the Hills Huts’, distinguished by their authentic qualities and production of regional specialities, Salzburg hopes to exceed its 22 million overnights recorded in 2011 (January to November). Similarly for Tyrol, which witnessed 39.1 million overnights in the same period, the Innsbruck Tourismus have outlined a number of new developments to attract tourists including the Kühtai High-Altitude Sports Centre, the recently opened Swarovski store, and a new museum showcasing Tyrolean history.

With an overall budget of approximately €50 million ($65 million), ANTO is focusing its marketing efforts in 2012 on three regions: Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and overseas countries including the US, Australia, India, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Japan.

Each year, ANTO places emphasis on different topics to generate worldwide culture campaigns with the 2012 focus being ‘Passion for Tradition’. In its continuous aim to differentiate itself from other destinations, the campaign highlights the numerous unique traditions that have continued through to present day. Preserving the cultural heritage through showcasing pursuits from yodelling to the ancient craft technique of indigo hand-printing will make up the cultural focus with other aspects such as social practice, rituals and festivals included.