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Austria knows best about happiness

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Mar 17, 2011

Berlin (eTN) - "Glück in Österreich" – "Happiness in Austria." This is the feeling that the Austria National Office of Tourism would like to convey to its visitors, at least to the German ones. Austria is indeed a well-known destination for Germans - too well-known would say some - thanks to its proximity and also the absence of language barriers. German tourists in 2010 represented 34.1% of all arrivals to the country (the equivalent of 10.7 million travelers) and 32.1% of all accommodation (48.1 million overnights). However, Germany has been at best a stagnant market over the last few years. Austria is often perceived in Germany as a holiday place for mature or retiring people, lacking maybe the fun of other destinations. “Although we experience a progress from German visitors in winter, especially with ski activities, we, however, see a decline in summer holiday," said Petra Stolba, Head of the Austria National Office of Tourism (Österreich Werbung or ÖW).

Enters then a new campaign to present Austria in a different light to German visitors, and give them a sense of happiness. “We want to highlight a new emotional ways to discover Austria. We want to show that Austria is good for the soul of our visitors by bringing moments of well-being and happiness,” explained Petra Stolba. Important themes are nature (re)discovery and simple pleasures of life such as walking, admiring landscapes, or culinary delights. A further explanation of these themes includes kid and family fun, romance for lovers, and athletic challenges. “We [are] try[ing] to focus on this image change in mature societies where life values take over the simple knowledge of a destination. Germany is a test market, and if it is successful, we could further extend this campaign to other maturing incoming markets in Western Europe such as France, Italy, or the UK,” she added.

“We can’t make a worldwide campaign on ‘Summer Bliss in Austria,’ as we deal with different market segments and different market perceptions. In Russia, for example, we still deal with a large number of group travelers with varying interests. Changes are already perceptible with Russians as we see more and more individuals. And in Asia, we still deal with a more kind of ‘materialistic’ traveler. Except for Japan, Asians are new middle-class travelers, and they still look for a status holiday: visiting well-known destinations with a symbolic value and doing shopping. Asia is, however, among our fastest-growing markets,” told Mrs. Stolba.

In 2010, Austria reached an all-time record in arrivals at 33.4 million (up by 3.3%) with foreign arrivals reaching 22 million (3%). Overnights expanded at a slower pace by 0.4%, reaching 124.9 million units, a number still below the 2008 all-time record of 126.7 million units. Asia represented 2.8% of all international arrivals or the equivalent of 625,259 travelers with all markets growing in the range of double-digit figures - Japan was the exception with "only" a 7.5% growth. Among other overseas markets, USA arrivals to Austria progressed by 14.4% to half a million travelers and the Middle-East by 19.4% to over 115,000 travelers.

Austria knows best about happiness
Simple life pleasures : visiting a fresh market in Graz, Styria. / Photo by L. Citrinot

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