Austrian skiers create overnight stay record

The number of winter season overnight stays by Austrians has reached a new record.

Around 15.3 million overnight stays by Austrians were registered across the country between November 2011 and April 2012. People’s Party (ÖVP) Economy and Tourism Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner announced: “Austrians gave the domestic economy a boost and ensured a strong level of purchasing power.”

Mitterlehner also appealed on tourism industry companies to concentrate on new markets. He said hotels might be able to compensate the expected decrease of holidaymakers coming to Austria from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.

Germans are the most important group of foreign customers for Austria’s hotels and guesthouses. Around 24.5 million overnight stays by German tourists were recorded last winter. The overall number of overnight stays climbed by 3.6 per cent to 64.3 per cent, according to Statistik Austria.

Tourism experts warn that many hotels’ turnover might have decreased despite a rise in bookings. They think that the number of hotels vying for guests by offering crash price packages and special midweek deals could climb due to intensified competition in cities and on the countryside.

Restaurants are reportedly challenged by an increasing reluctance among skiers and snowboarders to spend substantial sums on warm meals. Instead, many vacationers opt for snacks during the day before enjoying their dinners at the hotel in an attempt to save some money.

Around one dozen new hotels will open in Vienna – where the number of hotel beds rose by 3.4 per cent between 2005 and 2010 – in the coming months. Many more will start doing business in the country’s Alps in the near future. Austria’s hotels feature over 1.1 million beds. More than 62 million overnight stays were counted between May and September 2011.

Vienna recorded 5.1 million overnight stays between November 2011 and last month, up by eight per cent compared to the previous winter holiday season. Vienna managed the strongest increase among Austria’s provinces. Vorarlberg in the west did second-best (plus 5.9 per cent), followed by Upper Austria (plus 4.1 per cent) and Burgenland (plus 3.9 per cent).

Carinthia is the only province with a decrease (minus 1.7 per cent) of overnight stays. Styria registered the weakest increase of the country’s nine provinces (plus 2.4 per cent). Tyrol came first in terms of the overall number of overnight stays in winter 2011/2012 with 25.6 million, with Salzburg in second place (14.1 million).

Meanwhile, the Austrian Tourism Marketing Agency (ÖW) announced that international conferences and congresses created around 2.6 million overnight stays in Austria in 2011. ÖW officials explained that 2.1 per cent of all overnight stays recorded by Austrian hotels and guesthouses last year were booked by participants of such events.