Vienna economy set to rake in €74mn in ball season

Ball guests’ expenditures will pour more than 70 million Euros into the Viennese economy this winter, according to research.The city’s Economy Chamber (WKW) said today (Mon) ball guests’ spending on tickets, taxi rides and visits to the hairdresser will help the city’s businesses to around 74 million Euros in the upcoming ball season.WKW said it also expected 250,000 of the 1.7 million Vienna residents to visit at least one of the over 450 balls taking place in the capital between this month and next March. Hundreds of thousands of people from abroad visit Vienna every winter for its balls.The State Opera ball, the season’s highlight which attracts celebrities from all over the world every year, will take place on 3 March. Viennese businessman Richard Lugner – who previously invited actresses Joan Collins and Sofia Loren to attend the event with him – has so far remained tight-lipped over who will be his star guest at the 2011 State Opera ball.The upcoming Vienna State Opera ball will be the first taking place under the directorship of Dominique Meyer. The Frenchman succeeded Romanian-Austrian Ioan Holender earlier this year.Holender, who was in charge for a record 18 years, famously opposed the event in general. The former opera singer controversially branded national broadcaster ORF’s coverage of the ball as “boring”, and tried to keep the number of days the renowned institution must stop performing operas because of the ball as low as possible.Vienna suffered a 3.8 per cent decline of overnight stays to 9.8 million last year compared to 2008, but managed to raise figures between January and March 2010.Around 604,000 overnight stays were registered in January of this year, up by nine per cent compared to the same month of 2009. Hotels in the capital registered 519,00 overnight stays in the next month, up by 7.1 per cent year on year before a 24.9 per cent increase in March (842,000) marked a successful end of the past ball season for the city’s hoteliers.The Austrian Hotel Industry Association (ÖHV) said Vienna would rake in an extra 50 million Euros a year if all stores were allowed to do business on Sundays. The vast majority of businesses must stay closed on Sundays in Austria. ÖHV also said 325,000 more overnight stays would be possible only in Vienna if political leaders changed the law in favour of Sunday business-making.