Austria is actively looking at getting more Indians to visit this year. in a recent series of roadshows in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Delhi, the Austrian Tourism Board highlighted the growth in tourist numbers from India in 2015, while expressing confidence that the next year would be even better.
Christine Mukharji, India market manager, Austrian National Tourist Office said there was a record growth in the number of Indians visiting Austria last year, with the capital Vienna witnessing an almost 50% increase in Indian tourist traffic over 2014. Overall, there was a 40% increase in arrivals and a 34% increase in overnights.
“A recent study we commissioned shows that Austria offers the perfect combination of culture and landscape that appeals to Indian tourists. At least 98 percent of visitors are leisure travellers..we hardly have business travellers,” Mukarji said.
Even as there is organic growth in the number of Indian visitors, hope is also riding on the back of a Karan Johar film shot in the country, that is set for release release around the Diwali season this year.
At least 98 percent of Indian visitors to Austria are leisure travellers. “We have recently relaunched the website, Journeys through Austria,” pointed out Mukarji. She also hoped the exchange rate would remain enticing for Indians to travel to Austria, which she described as a value for money destination.
Connectivity to Austria is not a challenge. Austrian, part of the Lufthansa Group, flies directly from Delhi to Vienna daily. Many other airlines, notably the Gulf based ones – Emirates, and Etihad, as well as Turkish Airlines, Air India, Swiss, Lufthansa and British Airways offer quick connectivity between India and Austria.
The most visited place last year was the capital Vienna, which attracted about 90,000 Indians staying overnight. “We are delighted at the growing number of Indian travellers, largely comprising families, youth, honeymooners and those attending business conferences,” says Isabella Rauter, Vienna Tourist Board’s Head of Public Relations and responsible for media relations with India and Italy.
Overall, Vienna’s tourism industry can look back on its best year ever: 14.3 million visitor overnights, 5.9% more than in 2014, represent a new all-time high.
In 2015 Vienna once again achieved a record with 14.3 million visitor overnights – a result for the year that exceeds 2014’s previous record by 5.9%. A total of 6.6 million arrivals were recorded, an increase of 6.1%.
Over the period from December 2014 to December 2015, Vienna’s accommodation capacity increased by 2,840 to 64,200 beds, whilst room occupancy was up to 72% (2014: 71%). Net room revenues recorded by the hospitality sector – currently calculated for January thru’ November – saw a two-digit rise of 15.5% to 665,6 million euros.
“Approximately 82% of Vienna’s overnights in 2015 were international. Our strategy of reducing our dependence on individual markets and targeting specific growth and promising markets has paid off. The 150th anniversary of Vienna’s Ringstrasse boulevard was Vienna’s road to success in the literal sense of the word,” according to Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner. His objective now is to increase Vienna’s overnight figures to 18 million by 2020.
In 2015 Vienna’s ten top markets were once again headed by Germany with 2,783,000 bednights (+5%), followed by Austria (2,617,000 bednights, +5%), the USA (843,000, +13%), Italy (750,000, +8%) and the United Kingdom (588,000, +18%). Places 6 to 10 were taken by Spain (437,000, +13%), Switzerland (435,000, +9%), Russia (408,000, -32%), France (371,000, +2%) and Japan (286,000, -4%). Vienna also experienced strong growth from China (285,000 overnights, +21%), the Arab countries in Asia (198,000 overnights, +48%), South Korea (187,000, +19%), Australia (164,000, +10%), Turkey (148,000, +15%), the United Arab Emirates (123,000, +45%) and India (90,000, +39%).
Vienna is home to as many as 27 castles, 163 palaces, 109 museums, which rank among the world’s best and 120 music and theatre stages, hosting over 15,000 concerts annually. It is the only city in the world to lend its name to a unique style of cooking; Viennese cuisine. Viennese coffee houses offer superb pastries, pies and cakes, confections prepared with a traditional flair, in addition to the beverage, which makes for an unforgettable experience.
“Vienna’s Imperial heritage along with contemporary attractions and young neighbourhoods will continue to offer something for everyone in an Indian family as the city prepares to welcome Indian travellers in much larger numbers in 2016,” said Kettner.
The Viennese also take movie-making and viewing seriously. Since the opening of its first cinema in 1902, the city’s 26 multiplexes and independent screens offer around 26,000 seats.
More recently, the Vienna Film Commission also helped the Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil team identify, finalize and shoot at a number of locations in the sprawling paradise.
Some of the attractions popular with Indians are a stroll around the city, a leisurely journey which takes one back to the days of the empire. Half the metropolitan area is dotted with over 2000 green spaces, 850 parks, and 400 species of rose.
The Spanish Riding School, the only one of its kind in the world, preserves and promotes classic equestrian skills in its original form. Many years of training meshes the horse and rider into an inseparable unit. Their rhythmic movement in harmony with music leaves the audience spell bound. Lately the horsemanship has been classified as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
Not long after sundown 10,000 music fans throng concert halls, resounding with live classical music, something unheard of in any other part of the world. Vienna has also hosted many outstanding composers of the stature of Mozart, Mahler, Haydn, Beethoven and Johann Strauss, the king of the Viennese waltz.
A study by Mercer, a global consulting leader, has ranked Vienna with the world’s highest quality of living, for the sixth consecutive time in a row until 2015.
Musafir Namah Bureau