Austria stays ahead of the game

The picturesque Ötz Valley is a year round destination ideal for Arab guests

THE outbound travel from the Middle East to Europe is flocking to Austria, thereby recording the highest growth in the last five years.

“This means we are constantly gaining market share and are growing faster than any other European destination,” said Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director Middle East Austrian National Tourist Office.

“The number of visitors from the Middle East to Austria has increased fivefold in the last ten years. 2012 will be another record year and during the first three quarters of this year we are looking at a growth of 36 per cent in arrivals and 35.2 per cent in overnights from this region,” he added.

Ehrenbrandtner adds that he is keen to stay in that number one position and is eager to be very active in both the B2B and B2C marketing programmes again.

“There will be campaigns throughout the region in basically every marketing channel with a strong focus on online marketing. In the UAE we will continue having our radio campaigns to trigger demand before travel season and in Saudi Arabia we will cooperate with one of the big print titles again to have a nice media supplement going out in the same period.

“Our B2B activities are all based on our agents training program ACTS – Austrian Certified Travel Specialist. With it, dedicated travel agents will get a lot of extra business from us – a win-win situation that made this programme a huge success throughout the region,” he added.

The tourist office is seeing a growing demand for new destinations and their strategy is to add one new city every year or two, so as not to confuse the trade and the consumers.

“At the moment, we are heavily promoting the Ötz Valley. It is a perfect destination for this market as it has mountains, lakes, waterfalls, a glacier to be visited all year round and the Area47, which is the biggest outdoor adventure park in the world. Fortunately, there are still some destinations with a very high potential in the Middle East that need to be discovered by the market.

“We are also seeing the booking process shift more and more from travel agencies to online,” he added.

Ehrenbrandtner adds that while demand is high and still increasing, it is essential to make sure the travel trade is kept up to date. The visa situation has seen much improvement and travellers now have the possibility to apply for an Austrian Schengen visa in Dubai, Jeddah and the Eastern provinces. In the past, this was only possible in the capital cities.