Austrian congress tourism 2009 nets €1bn

Congress tourism created a net product of more than one billion Euros last year, tourism officials have said.Austria Marketing (ÖW) chief Petra Stolba announced today (Thurs) that around two million overnights throughout the country were made by congress participators in 2009.”Austria is one of the leading nations in the world when it comes to hosting congresses,” she said, adding that 1,765 such events took place last year.Christian Mutschlechner, president of the Austrian Convention Bureau (ACB) which studied last year’s conference tourism activities, meanwhile revealed people attending international congresses stayed for around five nights, while national events mostly led to just one overnight.”The many small congresses are essential for the economy. Only four per cent of all congress events in Austria in 2009 had more than 1,000 participators, while 40 per cent had less than 100,” he said.Mutschlechner said it was the first time that the ACB researched one year’s congress tourism business-making. “We do know nevertheless that 2009 was an exceptionally good year for the tourism industry when it comes to congresses. It certainly helped businesses focusing on congresses much more than 2008 when the European Football Championship dominated the picture,” he explained.He said studies also showed that congress participators spend around 450 Euros per day, while “regular holidaymakers” have daily expenses of just 280 Euros.Vienna and French capital Paris tied for first place for staging the most congresses in a world city last year as both cities hosted 139 international congresses. Barcelona was second with 136 congresses, followed by Singapore (118) and Berlin (100), according to a study by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).Around 50 per cent of congresses in Austria take place in Vienna which is an immensely popular location for its excellent traffic infrastructure and its cultural offers. Styria comes second ahead of the provinces of Tyrol and Upper Austria.Mutschlechner said the Austrian congress tourism industry was not affected by the recent shutdown of the European airspace due to the eruption of an Icelandic volcano.”No international congress was set to take place this and last week. We were really fortunate,” he said.Around 1,500 people registered to take part in last Sunday’s Vienna City Marathon (VCM) were however unable to take part due to travel complications. Organisers of the event’s 27th edition had however fears the international travel chaos would keep 4,000 runners from participating in what over the years become the country’s biggest sport event.