Hotels cut down investments

Austrian hotels are reducing their investments, according to a bank focusing on financing tourism projects.

The Austrian Hotels and Tourism Bank (ÖHT) said yesterday (Tues) it provided hotels across the country with loans worth 880 million Euros in 2011. The tourism industry businesses financed 1,800 renovation, restoration and expansion projects with the funds, according to the ÖHT.

The finance institution explained that it recorded a significant decline in demand for support in the second half of last year – a development considered as an indicator for slacking investment engagement. Especially hotels of the four- and five-star price category are seeking financial support from the specialised bank.

A spokesman for ÖHT said he expected the number of spas to stagnate in the coming years. The expert stressed that hundreds of hotels across Austria were featuring spa areas at the moment. He claimed that the hype was over and added that hotels were now concentrating on raising their number of beds.

Tourists from all over the world appreciate the combination of skiing and spas in the Austrian Alps. Research agency Meinungsraum found last year that 24 per cent of Austrians enjoyed visiting spas with their partners to maintain their relationships. Meinungsraum, which spoke with 1,000 Austrians, added that the chance to relax was the main reason of people (90 per cent).

Seventy-six per cent said that high water quality standards mattered a lot to them while nearly six in 10 (59 per cent) complained about excessive prices. Around 82 per cent of Austrians have visited a spa at least once in their lives so far, according to the Meinungsraum poll. Another survey identified Therme Loipersdorf and Heiltherme Bad Waltersdorf as Austria’s best known spas. Both businesses are situated in eastern Styria.

ÖHT said yesterday Austrian tourism industry enterprises were investing up to five billion Euros in their facilities a year. The country’s hotels and guesthouses registered 3.98 million overnight stays in November 2011. Detailed figures show that especially the number of overnight stays by vacationers from the Czech Republic (plus 35.1 per cent) and Russians (plus 28.5 per cent) rose compared to the same month of 2010.

The Austrian tourism sector has registered two-digit increases for arrivals of Russians each year since 2005 except in 2009. The western province of Tyrol is the most popular destination for skiers and snowboarders from the booming Eurasian country followed by Salzburg. Vienna tops the ranking when it comes to the overall number of reservations by Russian holidaymakers. More than 90,000 Russians visited the city last winter before around 103,000 came to Vienna in summer 2011.

The economic power of Austria’s tourism and export industry makes 50 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The alpine state’s hotels feature 1.1 million beds. Especially Vienna is currently experiencing high activity in the tourism sector as dozens of new hotels preparing to do business later this year or in 2013. Several five-star hotels located in the heart of the capital are at the ready to open. However, a large number of hotel projects in non-central districts is in the pipeline as well.