Bleak tourism evaluation amid feared overnight stay decline

A tourism sector official has called for more marketing efforts within Austria as hotels brace for a decline in overnight stays.Hans Schenner, head of the Federal Economy Chamber’s (WKO) tourism department, said today (Thurs) he feared hotels and guesthouses of the country welcomed fewer guests this month than in April 2010. Schenner also announced that hotels most likely suffered a decline in overnight stays this winter compared to the previous cold season. Final figures including hotels’ performances this and last month will be presented in May.Schenner said he felt “alarmed” by developments showing that the number of Austrians going on holidays within their home country has been receding.The WKO official called for “intensified efforts” by the Austrian Tourism Marketing Agency (ÖW) and the provincial tourism organisations. Schenner – who also demanded more efforts in Germany – dismissed claims that the domestic market was already saturated.It was recently announced that, with 42.59 million, the number of overnight stays between November 2010 and February 2011 was 2.1 per cent lower than in the same time span of the previous skiing and snowboarding season. The province of Styria experienced the strongest drop of overnight stays at 14.9 per cent. Vorarlberg (minus 14.8 per cent), Carinthia (minus 14.7 per cent) and Salzburg (minus 10.3 per cent) were hit badly as well.The performance of the Austrian tourism industry is an important factor for the country’s economy. The sector makes up around 18 per cent of Austria’s overall gross domestic product (GDP). Around one in five jobs in Austria is linked to the tourism industry in some way, according to a study.Austrian hotels and guesthouses feature around 1.1 million beds. A significant number of foreigners come to work in the country’s tourism sector every winter. However, restaurants and hotels focusing on the summer season also have a high demand for staff. Works council chiefs have claimed many hotels, pubs and restaurants would pay extremely low wages especially to trainees and employees from abroad to keep their profits up.