17. 05. 12. - 15:56
Congress tourism boosts cities and countryside
International conferences are becoming increasingly important to the Austrian tourism industry.
Congresses organised in Vienna and all over the country created around 2.6 million overnight stays last year. This means that 2.1 per cent of all overnight stays recorded by Austrian hotels and guesthouses were booked by participants of such events. The Austrian Tourism Marketing Agency (ÖW) said this was an improvement of 0.4 per cent compared to the year before.
Rural regions have developed into benefiters of the country’s rising popularity as a destination for business summits. Vienna has been one of the most popular locations for such events for many years. With 181 international congresses, the capital defended its global leadership last year ahead of French capital Paris and the Spanish city of Barcelona.
Vienna already did best in this concern in 2011 when, according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), 154 international summits took place in the city which made first place in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2011 ahead of Zurich, Switzerland, and Auckland, New Zealand.
Two gatherings by radiologists from Austria and abroad and the 18th International AIDS Conference were the biggest business events taking place in Vienna in recent years. Investigations show that attendants of international congresses stay for approximately five nights in Vienna while national events mostly led to only one overnight stay.
The Viennese tourism sector looks back on extraordinarily successful years. The city’s hotels – which increased their number of beds by 3.4 per cent between 2005 and 2010 – registered almost 10.9 million overnight stays in 2010, up by 10.3 per cent compared to 2009. They managed to set a new record last year with 11.4 million overnight stays.
Several prestigious tourism industry companies such as Ritz, Hyatt and Kempinski will open new hotels in the city – which currently counts 180 four- and five-star hotels – in the coming months.
Analysts think that customers will benefit from the developments in various ways. Established hotels are tipped to improve their service quality by carrying out the most urgent renovations and facility improvements in time to combat the new rivals. They might also reduce their room rates to avoid falling behind in competition while the newcomers could start with special offers.
Elisabeth Gürtler, the director of the Hotel Sacher, said globally operating tourism firms were interested in entering the city’s market due to the comparably low number of hotel beds per resident. She also underlined Austria’s reputation as the gateway to Eastern Europe (EE). Some of the most powerful enterprises in the world navigate their operations in the EE region from Vienna.
Gürtler’s family has owned the five-star Hotel Sacher, which is located next to the Vienna State Opera, since 1934. Gürtler – who is also the head manager of the Spanish Riding School (SRS) – acquired the Hotel Bristol Vienna, one of the Hotel Sacher’s biggest competitors, last year.