More Russians holidaymakers pick Austria

The number of overnight stays by Russian tourists in Austria has soared, new figures show.The Austria Tourism Marketing Agency (ÖW) announced today (Tues) hotels and guesthouses in Austria’s nine provinces registered 1.1 million overnight stays by 273,000 Russians in the first 11 months of this yearÖW explained these figures mean the number of Russian tourists in Austria jumped by 31.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2009, while the amount of overnight stays rose by 22.5 per cent.The agency explained the recorded figures resemble records from the same time span in 2008, adding that 2009 had been a slight disappointment for many hotel chief considering their strong performance in the previous year.ÖW revealed more than 50 per cent of Russians spending their vacation in Austria between January and November booked into four and five star hotels.Russia is widely regarded as an emerging market for Austria and other Western European states as far as the potential of holidaymakers is concerned.Especially the winter sport destinations in the Austrian province of Tyrol succeeded in attracting more and more Russians during the past few years. The provincial government of Tyrol spent 3.5 million Euros on marketing in Austria and abroad ahead of the current winter season, with its numerous ski resorts understood of having invested around the same amount on marketing altogether in the recent months.Some analysts warned the wave of Russian tourists coming to Austria may come to a sudden halt as leaders in the former Soviet country recently revealed plans to develop a winter sport resort in the Republic of Chechnya.Russian newspapers reported last month that Kremlin leaders and a group of oligarchs have joined forces to create a winter wonderland in the war-stricken region.Political leaders and businessmen hope that a 300-million-Euro investment in the volatile Caucasus region will reduce the number of wealthy Russians and members of the country’s new middle class heading to slopes in Austria other countries in the Alps. The new winter sport resort will feature around 20 pistes and open in five years, according to reports.Meanwhile, a leading winter holiday platform lists two Tyrolean ski resorts on a joint first place with a destination in the United States.Kaltenbach / Hochziller Valley-Hochfügen, Wilder Kaiser in the Brixen Valley and Whistler Blackcomb top the chart compiled by German website which permanently tests more than 4,500 winter sport resorts in the world. The top 10 currently include four more Austrian founder Oliver Kern said: “I’m not surprised that Tyroleans are doing well in our ranking. They have beautiful mountains and invest a lot in their skiing resorts.”