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Bank Austria Creditanstalt Group Economics Sector Report:
Austrian Tourism Industry Shows its Competitive Strength

  • Revenues up by roughly 4 per cent in 2006 in spite of stagnating overnight stays
  • Disproportionate number of new jobs in the sector
  • Every tenth visitor spends a health-oriented holiday

The domestic tourism sector was not able to increase the number of overnight stays in 2006, but still upped its revenue by 4 per cent. Foreign and domestic holidaymakers spent nearly EUR 20 million in Austria last year. These figures were taken from the latest Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) Group Economics sector report on Austria's tourism industry. Tourism revenue is even expected to increase by another 4 per cent in the current warm winter season in spite of the lack of snow, with a projected approximate 3 per cent increase in overnight stays. The Austrian tourism industry is again demonstrating its competitive strength.

Demand in the winter season has declined overall as Austrian winter sports resorts are not only competing with places like Switzerland as in the past, but also with exotic destinations such as the Seychelles. "The number of visitors coming to Austria is growing steadily, but the rate of growth is slowing. And the average number of days spent in the country is also falling," says sector analyst Günter Wolf. The record level of 130 million overnight stays registered in 1991 and 1992 remained out of reach, with 119.4 million overnight stays in 2006. In spite of this, tourism revenue has increased handsomely, by an average of 4 per cent per year since 1995.

In addition, a disproportionate number of new jobs has been created in Austria's hotels, inns, restaurants and other dining and lodging establishments. The number of jobs has increased by an average of 1.6 per cent per year over the last ten years, nearly one percentage point faster than in the economy as a whole. This makes for a total of 26,000 new jobs since 1995, 14 per cent of all new jobs created in the country since then. By way of comparison, the entire sector only employs 168,000 people, or 5 per cent of the Austrian workforce.

The Austrian tourism industry has been able to bolster its competitive strength especially by improving the quality of its offers in specific market segments. Some successful examples are health tourism, city and cultural tourism, and also winter tourism. Some 10 per cent of all holidaymakers in Austria already book health-oriented holiday packages, for which they spend considerably more than the "average" visitor. In the mid 1990s, such health holidays were booked by only 4 per cent of all visitors. Günter Wolf from BA-CA: "Health tourism is destined to secure the competitive strength of tourism in high-wage countries over the long term because of the relatively strict quality requirements. This segment also has the best prospects for growth, at least because the steadily increasing number of elderly persons in western countries means that the number of potential customers is increasing as well."

The Austrian tourism industry can expect revenue growth rates of around 4 per cent over the next two years. This growth will primarily be made possible by the good economic outlook in western Europe, whereby the potential slight decline in demand in important markets in 2008 will be counterbalanced by the special effects of the UEFA EURO 2008 football championships. "Over the long term, sustained high growth rates in the number of visitors and in revenue from tourism will become increasingly rare," summarises Günter Wolf, the author of the study. The World Tourism Organisation is projecting that the rate of increase in international visitors to Europe will slow from the 4 per cent average seen over the last two decades to 3 per cent in the next 15 years. The number of foreign visitors to Austria has already grown comparatively slowly in recent years, by 1 to 2 per cent per year. A rate that we will likely continue to see in the future.

Enquiries: Bank Austria Creditanstalt Press Austria
Tiemon Kiesenhofer, Tel. +43 (0)5 05 05 52819
E-mail: tiemon.kiesenhofer@ba-ca.com