Tourism project causes chaos in Rome

A Viennese promotion initiative had to be abandoned earlier than planned after it sparked traffic havoc at one of Rome’s busiest public places.

Impressions from the Austrian capital lured hundreds of people to Rome’s Piazza Venezia after dusk each day in the past weeks. Viennese tourism marketing agents hoped to convince Italians and people visiting the city that Vienna would be worth a visit.

Local officials decided yesterday (Weds) that the installation called “Vivi Vienna in 3D a Roma” – which would have run until tomorrow – must end instantly. A spokeswoman for Vienna’s tourism marketing agency explained they feared a worsening of the safety of pedestrians and motorists at the square – which is a main traffic junction – due to the high number of people turning up to watch the installation, film it and take pictures.

The Viennese tourism marketing agency said it had understanding for the measure, adding that it was not considering the decision as a hostile act. They explained the initiative was a full success due to the strong attention it created among locals and vacationers.

The Piazza Venezia project is part of a campaign Viennese tourism decision-makers recently started. Officials explained they would focus more on so-called guerrilla marketing in the coming months and years to attract especially young people. The smell of Viennese coffee was spread at platforms of the underground network of Bucharest in Romania as part of the new series of initiatives. Other activities included placing ads on buses in Barcelona, Spain, and London in Great Britain.

“Many people consider travelling to Vienna someday. Our motto is: ‘Vienna – now or never’,” Viennese Social Democratic (SPÖ) Financial Issues Councillor Renate Brauner said in July. She explained: “The city started to include young artists’ projects in its promotion activities abroad to point out that Vienna has more to offer than the Lipizzaner (horses at the Spanish Riding School).”

Around 1.18 million overnight stays took place in Vienna’s hotels in August – an all-time record for that month. Vienna’s tourism industry strongly benefited from an immense increase of overnight stays by people from China (plus 50 per cent compared to August 2010) and Russia (plus 21 per cent).