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Analysis of the Rise and Development of Austrian Tourism Industry

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The Habsburg Monarchy lead Austria for 700 years until the end of World War 1 in 1919, in which they became a federal republic (Benedikt, 2012). Conflict arose in the years to follow, economically and politically, and they needed support from other countries. According to the New World Encyclopedia (2016), Austria was put in a difficult spot for the upcoming war as most of their country was seized by the Axis and Allied Power. By the end of World War 2, in 1955 Austria had regained its full independence from the occupying powers of the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom and by the end of that year had declared permanent neutrality (New World Encyclopedia, 2016). Today, Austria’s federal republic spilt up among nine provinces (Austrian Government & People, 2015). Each of the individual provinces, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol, Carinthia, Salzburg, Vorarlberg, Burgenland, and Vienna, all have a Governor that is appointed by the Federal President (Austria – European Union, 2018).

Additionally, the European Union (2018) states that Austria became a member of the European Union in 1995 and currently has 18 members that are represented in the European Parliament.In 2018, Austria has a population of 8.8 million, mostly consisting of German speakers (Austrian Government & People, 2015), with approximately 2.1 million of those people living in the Capital, Vienna. Austria has a very successful free market economy having a Gross Domestic Product of 416.60 billion USD and is ranked 15th in GDP per capita at 49,129.23 (Trading Economics, 2018). As a very industrialized country, Austria’s economic success is due to gastronomy, mechanical and chemical engineering, vehicle manufacturing, and luxury amenities (Economy, 2018). Geographically, Austria sits in the middle of the European continent surrounded by seven different countries. Major attributes to its geography are the Alps that run through the southwest region and the Danube River that runs across the northeast. The Alps being the largest mountain range in Europe, it holds a substantially part in Austria’s tourism industry. Additionally, the climate is also a major factor that is not only significant to the locals but to its tourist arrivals as well. Austria’s climate has four seasons, the winter months with snowfall typically being from December to March (Climate, 2018). In higher altitude areas snow stays longer and, in some areas, even stay year around. However, the majority of the country does have a consistent Spring and Fall and a warm Summer with temperatures ranging from 86-95 degrees (Climate, 2018).

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Tourism Stats, major tourist markets

Austria is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe (The Austrian National Tourist Office, 2017). Each year they have increased their number of tourist arrivals reaching a record high of 38.6 million visitors in 2017 (Statista, 2018). The most popular months for tourism visits is between June and August, however due to Austria’s wide variety of seasonal activities, there is still a constant flow of tourists through the winter months. The most notable markets in Austria are in fact accommodation and food and beverage, which are all usually ran by small businesses (All about Austria’s tourism, 2012). The leisure activities sector is also a very prominent tourist market, but such activities vary from each region. Knowing Austria’s climatic features, tourists can always find something to do regardless of the time of year. Hiking mountains and fishing are popular amongst tourist in the Summer where skiing and tobogganing take over in the Winter. While Vienna is of the most popular and well-known places in Austria, Tyrol and Salzburg are the market leaders, accounting for around 50% of overnight stays by arrivals (All about Austria’s tourism, 2012).

There is a large trend of heritage tourism in Austria and many of its most popular places to visit are World Heritage Sites. Often Western tourist’s reasons for visiting are because of the amount of history and heritage the country has to offer. Additionally, other direct travel and tourism contributions to expenditure include commodities such as transportation and entertainment and industry market such as retail and recreational services (World Tourism & Travel Council, 2018)Role of tourism on economy, receiptsTravel and Tourism in Austria is a huge part of its economic success. Their direct contribution in 2017 to gross domestic product was 5.8%, 24.3 billion USD, and the overall total gross domestic product was 14.8%, 62 billion USD. Tourism directly created 289,500 jobs in 2017 which accounts for 6.5% of employment in the country and indirectly backed 713,000 jobs, or 16.1% of total employment. Austria is expected see more growth in employment, just like it is in most economic categories over the next year (World Tourism & Travel Council, 2018). Additionally, Exports in Austria was a total of 9.7%, 22 billion USD, and 4.1% of total investments, 4 billion USD, in 2017 (World Tourism & Travel Council, 2018).Austria’s international tourism receipts were at 19.24 billion USD, 9.4% of total exports, at the end of 2016 (Austria Tourism Statistics, 2017).

For international tourism expenditures, Austria is ranked 29th at $10.5 billion USD expended in 2017 (Austria Visit Britain, 2017). Austria is known as a safe travel destination along with a higher standard of living and impressive GDP per capita sitting at $47,726 USD a year (US News & World Report – Austria Ranks, 2018). Austria is currently ranked 10th in GDP per capita for European countries and 15th in the world (Countries by GDP per capita, 2018).There are many sectors that contribute to Austria’s travel and tourism GDP and they are leisure activities, accounting for 85.6% of tourism spending, and business activities taking over the remaining 14.4% (World Tourism & Travel Council, 2018). Both of these sectors are expected to grow over the next year as well. Austria is ranked 21 out of 185 countries in travel and tourisms total contribution to GDP, only 900,000 behind the European Union Average (World Tourism & Travel Council, 2018). All of this statistical data makes Austria very alluring as far as tourism goes. It being a smaller country, only 83,858 square kilometers, or a little smaller than the size of Maine in the United States (Austrian Government & People, 2015), most of its economic success is in part to its tourism industry.

Major attractions

Many of Austria’s major attractions are featured around the early stages of the monarchy. Schonbrunn Palace is the most visited attraction in Austria seeing around 3.8 million visitors a year (Press Information, 2017). This Baroque style attraction has a long history which is why it was labeled as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Science, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. Many of its original features are still intact, therefore attracting many tourists interested in heritage tourism. The Schonbrunn Palace was once a residency of many leaders of the Austria monarchy such as Emperor Franz Joseph and Archduke Franz Karl (Press Information, 2017). which is an element visited on tours. The entire estate is 7,000 square meters large, also featuring amenities such as a children museum, gardens, and the largest orangery in Europe (Press Information, 2017). Schlegeis Lake is another must see when visiting Austria. Featured in the Zillertal valley, there are an abundance of hiking trials and mountains to climb. The most popular trail is Schlegeis Alpine that is 15 meters long and consisting of switchbacks and rock tunnels (Schlegeis Lake, 2014).

The Vienna Hofburg, also known as Austria’s Imperial Palace, is established as a political headquarters that was once held by Austria’s monarchy until it ended in 1918 under Charles I. Today it is used for state business matters while also being open for tours of the Imperial Silver Collection, Sisi Museum, and Imperial Apartments (Dearsley, 2018). Approximately 640,000 people visit Hofburg Imperial Palace a year (Himpele, 2015)Salzburg Altstady, also listed as a World Heritage Site (Dearsley, 2018). Hallstatt and the Dachstein Salzkammergut, also a World Heritage Site, is a small town known for its history of salt production (Dearsley, 2018). Here you can explore the Great Ice Cave and Dachstein Caves along with visiting the underground salt lake all within close proximity to the town.

Marketing/branding

Austria’s tourism industry has be running by the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) since 1955 (The Austrian National Tourist Office, 2017). ANTO’s marketing endeavors are proposed to meet Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and overseas countries. These efforts include advertising and media assistance, along with brochures, travel agents, and tour operators (The Austrian National Tourist Office, 2017), reaching beyond their regions of interest. ANTO spends around 58 million USD in marketing strategies a year making it a point to stay up to date and innovative in today’s modern marketing societies (The Austrian National Tourist Office, 2017). ANTO has also set up website platforms such as Austria.info/uk that provides many holiday destination excursions, tips for traveling, and in depth trip itineraries for your preferred destination. The Tourism Strategy 2020 is in current operation with a main focal point around Vienna, Austria’s capital. There current goal, starting from 2013 and to deadline in 2020, is to increase the number of overnight stays by five million, increase room revenue by 467 million USD, and add an additional 20 locations for direct flights to Vienna (Tourism Strategy 2020, 2013). According to Gary Diskin (2017), Vienna is on track to reaching 18 million overnight visitors in 2020, currently seeing 15 million overnight visitors in 2017. The Vienna Tourist Board is the team behind new initiatives and destination development (Our Team, 2018) for the tourism 2020 strategy and their performances are clearing working as the numbers continue to increase over the years.

Challenges in tourism development

Climate change, like all over the world, is a challenge afflicting Austria. Although they have not seen the implications of rising sea levels as the country is landlocked, there has been a recording of higher temperatures and precipitation in the last half a century (Radunsky, 2012). In the last 20 years, winter tourism destinations have seen a shortening of snow cover by almost an entire month, taking away more time for tourists to be enjoying winter activities (Radunsky, 2012). The Alps are also at risk for climate change which effects tourism in Austria, as they are the primary mountain range in which people visit and participate in winter adventures. Another issue in the development of tourism in Austria is its lack of educational needs for jobs in the industry. When people go on vacation, they have expectations of how they should be serviced, and proper training needs to be had in order to fill that standard. The education system must strengthen in order to keep up with these expectations and provide the tourists with the most best service possible (Dolnicar, 2001).

Austria, like other countries, faces challenges in globalization and the scarcity of its resources.

Austria has developed a strategy for sustainable development that goes beyond your usual approach. Dealing with current issues such as education, innovation, and international responsibility (Austrian Strategy – Sustainable Development, 2002), this strategy hopes to improve such challenges for a more sustainable future. Austria’s resources have been well preserved over the years, but as an influx in tourism continues to happen, more active measures must be taken. There has also been an increase in energy consumption and CO2 emissions from increasing the amount of transportation over the last 20 years, specifically in the Tyrol and Salzburg areas (Benedikt, 2012). Traffic limitations such as taxing roads or tunnel systems have been looked at as a solution for the emissions and traffic issues Austrian’s are currently facing. Additionally, some Austrian States such as Voralberg and Vienna have bad air quality due to these implications (The Local, 2014). Industrial development also accounts for this air pollution issue along with acid rain incidents, causing even more damages to Austria’s environment (Benedikt, 2012). Considering the challenges that effect tourism in Austria, the country always seems to be right there ready to take on the problem. For every single one of these issues mentioned there is a policy either in place or working its way into ratification. While no country is perfect, Austria is one of the front runners in how execution of economy, tourism, and overall lively hood of its inhabitants should be done. Austria tops many of the categories taken into account when discovering a place to visit or reside. They excel in areas such politics, environment, economics, healthcare, transportation, and historical recreation (Durando, 2018) which accounts for many of the statistics already stated. Austria exudes all positive characteristics in which one would want when adhering to international tourism.

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