In Austria tourism differentiation meets sustainability

Tourism in Austria is a leisure-oriented sector. As it’s underlined in the “Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017″ by the World Travel & Tourism Council, in 2016 84,1% of the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism was represented by the leisure tourism expense. Notwithstanding, the business segment is growing, representing its 15,9%. As reported by the World Economic Forum in its “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017″, Austria is 12th out of 136 analysed Countries for tourism competitiveness. As a destination, it can count on its “Tourist service infrastructure” (1st place), “Environmental sustainability” (2nd place), an excellent “Ground transport efficiency” (8th place), the “Attractiveness of natural assets” (8th place) and a strong “Country brand strategy”(11th place). On the other hand, a weak spot of the destination is “Price competitiveness” (125th place). In 2016, as reported by the WTTC, the Travel & Tourism direct contribution was 19,5bn euros, an interesting result, which represented 5,6% of GDP. The total contribution, including the indirect and induced ones, was 54,4bn euros, namely 15,6% of GDP, and it is foreseen to grow up to 72bn by 2027.

As highlighted in the OECD’s “Tourism Trends and Policies”, in 2010 the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, which has the competency on tourism policies, released the National Strategy for Tourism, which aims to enhance synergies and cooperation between national and regional levels. Austria is now facing some challenges regarding the strong seasonality and improving accessibility, compromised by the mountainous conformation of its territory. As reported by Tourism Review, Austria has to deal with a problem which derives from its own success as a tourism destination: skiing. Its practice is now compromising the natural assets and the environmental sustainability that characterise this Country, due to an intense deforestation and building construction. For example, there are 17 mega resorts dedicated to winter sports which measure more than 2.000 hectares each.
About accessibility, at the beginning of March the Austrian Government submitted to IATA its plan to halve air travel taxes in 2018. This choice, which IATA suggest to be taken as a good practice, aims to increase the Country appeal as a business or, in better words, bleisure destination, able to add the leisure component to business travels.

Moreover, 2017 is going to be an important year for cultural tourism in Austria, as it is the 300th anniversary of Maria Theresa of Austria’s birth. For this occasion, several exhibitions and events are planned in the whole Country, and tourism flows, especially domestic ones, are expected to grow.

Austria is perceived as a safe destination. As reported by the UK Foreign Travel Advice, there is a general threat from international terrorism but, at the same time, a low risk of local crimes.

At Twissen we observed that Austria has a strong supply for winter sports tourism but, if it is not properly managed, it could compromise the sustainable balance of its own natural heritage, which is the basis of its tourism appeal. There are good opportunities for business tourism, provided the inclination of the Country to welcome this segment, also thanks to the government policies which support its development.