Vying for CEE tourists intensifies

Austrian tourism officials have revealed plans to increase their focus on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Around 10 per cent of vacationers choosing Austria come from the region, up from just four per cent 15 years ago. Now the Austrian Tourism Marketing Agency (ÖW) announced it would launch a new promotion campaign in countries like Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to lure even more people to spend their summer and winter breaks in the alpine country.

ÖW explained figures had shown that Russians and people from Ukraine were spending the most when on holiday in Austria. The agency added tourists from the CEE region were younger on average than holidaymakers from Western Europe. The number of vacationers from CEE in Austria is expected to increase more strongly than the share of their Western European contemporaries, according to research. People from CEE mostly opt for more expensive hotels and stay longer than tourists from the west.

ÖW said it intended do more about remaining strong in international competition as the Italian region of South Tyrol was becoming increasingly attractive to skiers from CEE. However, the agency emphasised that Austria is the most popular winter vacation destination among residents of all CEE states.

Speaking about the current summer season, ÖW explained it was convinced hotels had good chances of achieving a performance similar to its overnight figures of 2010. The organisation explained lakeside resorts across the country did badly last month due to the unusually cold weather featuring lots of rain and strong winds. It added that spas and city hotels may have performed better than in July 2010 due to the conditions. Nearly 46.6 million overnight stays were spent in Austria’s hotels and guesthouses between May and August 2010, around 1.1 per cent more than in the same time span of the previous year.

The number of overnight stays registered in the first half of 2011 edged up by 0.4 per cent to 64.11 million compared to the first six months of 2010. Germans were most strongly represented among tourists in Austria between January and June of this year with a share of 24.2 per cent. Austrians came second (16.6 per cent). The share of Dutch travellers rose by 1.8 per cent to 5.2 per cent. Swiss tourists were found in fourth place (two per cent).

Speaking about the reputation of Austria as a holiday destination, ÖW said the Czech Republic topped last year’s figures as 570,000 people from the country opted for a break in Austria. Hungary was second for arrivals (442,000), with Poland in third position(346,500). Two thirds of vacationers from CEE visited Austria during winter.

Viennese research group Karmasin found a few weeks ago that 31 per cent of Austrians would not spend a holiday in Austria or abroad this summer. Only 28 per cent said the same in 2010. Forty-two per cent of the 500 Austrians Karmasin interviewed for magazine profil in July revealed plans to take a vacation abroad. Italy, Croatia, Greece, Spain and Austria have been Austrians’ favoured destinations for summer holidays for decades.