Vienna – Austria’s tourism sector grew by 4.7 per cent in arrivals in 2008, with large gains from Central and Eastern European visitors, according to data released by the statistics office on Monday.
With 48.1 per cent, Russian tourists showed the biggest increase. But Poles (36.4 per cent), Czechs (26.8 per cent) and Hungarians (7.3 per cent) also increasingly chose Austria as a travel destination.
Visitors from these four countries made up some 7 per cent of Austria’s 21.9 million foreign tourists in 2008.
The current economic climate would not dent the number of tourists coming from the CEE region in 2009, said Ingrid Sieder, market manager for the Czech Republic at the Austrian tourism agency.
‘One of our advantages is that in economically difficult times, tourists choose destinations that are nearby,’ Sieder said.
Last December, Austria recorded double-digit growth in tourists from CEE countries, compared with the same month in 2007.
Owing to the weak dollar, almost 17 per cent fewer visitors from the United States found their way to Austrian tourist spots and ski slopes in 2008.
The tourism industry contributed nearly 9 per cent to Austria’s gross domestic product of 270.8 billion euros (351.9 billion dollars) in 2007, according to the latest available data.