Greek crisis scares away Austrians

Significantly fewer Austrians will travel to Greece this summer, preliminary booking records show.

The Verkehrsbüro Group, Austria’s biggest tourism company, said yesterday (Weds) the number of Austrians planning holidays in the debt-stricken country in southern Europe had been 21.6 per cent higher at the same time last year. The travel office enterprise said Greece remained

Austrians’ third-most popular holiday destination abroad nevertheless. Turkey tops the ranking followed by Spain, the firm explained. The high likeliness of strikes and fears of violent incidents in capital Athens persuaded former fans of trips to Greece to set their sights on other destinations, according to experts.

Verkehrsbüro Group figures for bookings so far this year show that Egypt is catching up. The Arabian country’s tourism industry suffered an immense throwback last year due to the political revolution. Special offers failed to attract a significant number of Austrians in 2011. But the situation will improve this year as the number of bookings climbed by more than 15 per cent.

A new study by tourism business analyst Peter Zellmann shows that more than four in 10 Austrians are certain about taking a holiday this summer. Zellmann – whose survey is based on 1,100 interviews – said that 27 per cent were still undecided. Around 30 per cent do not intend to take a break this summer, according to the poll.

Speaking about the expected situation regarding Greek summer holiday bookings by Austrians, Zellmann said: “The prospect of taxi drivers on strike and cancelled ferry services is not very tempting.”

Zellmann said it was not true that most Austrians could still afford a two-week summer break and a winter season vacation of one week. Fewer than one in five Austrians took breaks of such extent in the past years, according to his investigations. Around four out of 10 Austrians did not take a holiday in 2011, he said, adding that one in three did not take holidays of more than 13 days.

Zellmann explained that the southern region of Carinthia was Austrians’ most popular domestic summer vacation destination. The central province of Styria takes second place, with Salzburg in third. The small eastern region of Burgenland – which, due to a lack of mountains, focuses on offering cycling and spa holidays – comes fourth. Experts think that Burgenland’s hotels and restaurants succeed by offering a reasonable mixture of quality and affordable prices in contrast to some hiking resorts in the Austrian Alps.

Tyrol, which has managed to attract Russian skiers in the past years, only comes fifth. The western province is one of the most popular regions for winter holidays in the world. Lower Austria takes sixth place as far as Austrians’ favoured domestic vacation destinations are concerned, with Vorarlberg in seventh. Vienna and Upper Austria did worst in attracting Austrian holiday makers in the past few years.