Styria tourism warning as Vienna keeps top spot

Styria and Burgenland need to raise their efforts in targeting international guests, a tourism expert has warned.Martin Stanits of the Austrian Hoteliers Association (ÖHV) when speaking about the provincial capital of Styria today (Thurs) said: “Tourism in the Graz region is struggling a bit since the city was Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2003.”Stanits stressed that 90 per cent of people spending holidays in the region were Austrians.He appealed to local tourism chiefs to increase their attempts to “internationalise” their offers to attract more guests from abroad.Stanits said the province of Burgenland had similar problems.”Growth cannot be achieved with Austrians as guests over the next few years. More investments will be necessary,” he added.His appeal however comes just weeks after Graz officials said the city’s economy had been given a “massive boost” by sport fans coming to watch the European Handball Championships.Sports city councillor Detlev Eisel-Eiselsberg of the People’s Party (ÖVP) said earlier this month that the Styrian capital’s hotels and pensions (guest houses) registered an additional 6,100 bookings in January compared to figures for the same month in previous years.He added that every Euro invested by the state and the province sparked 15 Euros in turnover for the region’s economy. Overall turnover created by the event made more than five million Euros, a study by the city’s Campus 02 college has shown.Graz – the second-biggest city in Austria – hosted the European Handball Championships group stage matches of Norway, Croatia, Russia and Ukraine.Gerhard Gucher meanwhile claimed Burgenland “plays in the top-flight league today” as he left after having acted as head of the province’s tourism marketing board for 12 years earlier this month.Gucher claimed the province had the potential of competing with the world famous Alpine province of Tyrol and federal capital Vienna.Around 80 million Euros were pumped into the province’s economy during last year’s “Haydn Year” which marked the 200th anniversary of composer Joseph Haydn’s death. Around 435,000 people had attended more than 4,000 events including concerts and exhibitions.ÖHV research based on figures from 2008 meanwhile found out that Vienna retains its top spot as most popular holiday destination in the country. Study leaders said Tyrol’s Ötz Valley and Ziller Valley came second.ÖHV general secretary Thomas Reisenzahn pointed out that some winter sport areas improved impressively.”The [Tyrolean] region of Kitzbühel jumped from 87th among 88 tested areas to eighth,” he named one example.Stanits meanwhile claimed the provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia “must put in some extra effort” to keep their performance up.ÖHV research found that the city of Salzburg suffered an 8.6 per cent year on year overnights decrease in 2008 despite being one of the cities hosting Euro2008 matches, while Austria overall recorded an average one per cent increase in booking figures.ÖHV researchers stressed prices must have been upped in Salzburg in 2008 as the city’s turnover improved year on year in 2008.Official figures presented earlier this month somewhat contradict ÖHV’s warnings of a downward trend as they showed that the past winter season was the best in history for the province of Salzburg.Local authorities say 12.7 million overnights were registered in the province, adding that a 13 per cent year on year increase in March was a key factor for the satisfying figures.The province seems to be on the road to recovery from the effects of the credit crunch as a poll by the Salzburg branch of the Federal Economy Chamber (WKS) found out that 57 per cent of its restaurants, bars and hotels already made or planned to make investments in their facilities this year. Another result of the survey is that one in seven restaurant managers and hotel chiefs plan to keep all of their employees this year.