Australian overnights in Austria above 2019 levels

LATTE chats with Emanuel Lehner-Telic, Head of Market, Asia Pacific

The number of Australian overnight stays in Austria has surpassed pre-COVID levels, and is anticipated to increase further when additional air capacity opens up.

Emanuel Lehner-Telic, Head of Market for Asia Pacific for Austrian National Tourist Office says based on figures from January and February 2023, Australia is performing “very, very well” at the moment in terms of bed nights, “even better than 2019”. Data indicates overnight stays are up 5%.

The number of physical visitors entering Australia is lagging just 5% on the same time period, meaning Aussies travelling to Austria are staying marginally longer than before the pandemic.

Emanuel Lehner-Telic, Head of Market, Asia Pacific, Austrian National Tourist Office

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Those statistics do however continue to exclude the number of Australian river cruise passengers sailing through the European landlocked country.

Lehner-Telic told LATTE that the introduction of a digital registration system earmarked for the future in Austria will provide a much more accurate representation of calculating incoming visitors and overnight stays. With the new system, guests staying at all accommodations will be counted digitally, meaning the data can be collated in real-time compared to a more archaic and slower system currently used.

While Australia is just outside Austria’s top 20 source markets for tourism (at 24th), Lehner-Telic said it remains a very important international market due to the length of stay (and spend), with an average stay of approximately 2.6 nights.

Salzburg | Credit: Makalu/Pixabay

“In 2019 we had 400,000 overnights and 150,000 arrivals from Australia, which is almost double other markets,” the Bangkok-based tourism expert said.

Australians tend to explore the cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, whereas visitors from Austria’s neighbouring countries have a tendency to explore the countryside, mountains and lakes regions. That said, Aussies are a Top 6 market for St. Anton am Arlberg, an alpine resort that is booming over the ski season.

Lehner-Telic added that Australians also rank as a top 10 visitor to attractions in Vienna such as the Spanish Horse Riding School and many museums.

“Australia is a very important market,” he emphasized, noting that Australia is also leading the Asia Pacific region, under his remit, for visitation to Austria.

He told LATTE that the US market was booming, as Americans take advantage of the strong exchange rate between the US Dollar and Euro. That demand has also been fueled by added airlift into Austria’s and Central Europe’s major cities, with some airlines deferring their quiet Asian routes to North America instead. The US is currently Vienna’s third largest source in terms of overnight stays.

The lack of airlift from China and Asian markets is an ongoing concern. Lehner-Telic referred to it as a “huge problem”.

He offered the example of China’s airlift pre-COVID was 30 connections to Austria per week. At the moment it is six. Similarly, for Japan, pre-COVID Austria welcomed 10-12 connections per week. Now it is just four.

“There’s a severe lack of capacity and the prices for tickets, especially Business Class tickets, are unbelievable. I think that’s causing a major impact and it’ll be interesting to observe how this will play out.”

Last week’s atb 2023 event in Vienna, operated by Austrian National Tourist Office, included 20 Chinese representatives of 75 delegates attending from the Asia Pacific region. The APAC delegation was around 15-20% of the total number of visiting global delegates.

Asia Pacific was very well represented at atb 2023, including three buyers from Australia, representing Limelight Arts Travel, UTracks and Intrepid.

Austria’s overnight visitor numbers across all markets combined are down only 5% on 2019, given the situation in Russia and Ukraine, and the only recent reactivation of China’s outbound tourism industry, there is high optimism for Austria’s future visitation.

Lead image: Vienna Hofburg Imperial Palace | Credit: Andreas N/Pixabay

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