A modern city with a rich history
Vienna as a tourist destination enjoys a high reputation for its wide artistic and cultural offerings, many important historical sights and its traditional hospitality which visitors find charming, sympathetic and cultured. Vienna: a city to experience and enjoy.
At first sight, and seen superficially, Vienna exudes the charm of a bygone era and, as far as tourism is concerned, lives on a certain nostalgia for the Habsburg empire. Pushing aside Baroque or imperial curtain reveals a proud, modern and trendy city with a young, innovative cultural and arts scene, a rich variety of excellent cafés and restaurants and – as the only capital in the world – its own wines grown and vinified within the city limits.
This rich diversity was responsible for the fact that in 2011 the number of tourist overnight stays reached 11,405,048. International tourists accounted for 9,308,692 of these stays. At 2,380,559 stays, Germans were the most devoted visitors to Vienna, followed by Italians (657,210) and Americans (560,577). The most popular tourist attractions are Schönbrunn Palace and Schönbrunn Zoo, followed by Hofburg Palace, St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Giant Ferris Wheel and the Albertina. The Magic of Advent in the Christmas season and the open-air Donauinselfest festival in the summer are the most popular events by a wide margin.
After World War II tourism set in again while Vienna was still in the reconstruction stage. As early as 1949 the International Automobile Show took place in Vienna, and the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) was resumed in 1951 for the first time since 1937. The Third Man, the film adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel directed by Carol Reed, with Orson Welles in the main role and film music played on the zither by Anton Karas, showed a city in ruins where black marketing and illegal penicillin flourished, but it also contributed towards putting Vienna back on the map as a popular tourist destination.
During the 1953 Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) four international congresses were held simultaneously in the city in a move to establish Vienna as a modern congress venue. In June 1953 the inner-Austrian borders were lifted; as a result, the number of overnights stays in Vienna climbed to 127,043. This figure served as a solid basis on which to rebuild tourism and further encourage it.
Tradition meets modernity
Off the beaten tracks and the traditional tourist hotspots there is also a vibrant contemporary art scene has a lot to offer. Fashion is flourishing, partly as a result of the annual „festival for fashion & photography“ (formerly known as Austrian Fashion Week), the Vienna Fashion Week or the Modepalast fashion event. The music scene is booming as well, thanks to internationally renowned festivals such as Jazzfest Vienna, the Accordion Festival, KlezMORE, Balkan Fever and the Vienna Blues Spring. Electronic music from Vienna also enjoys an excellent reputation around the world today. The restaurant, clubs, bars and event venues along the Gürtel ringroad, on Danube Canal and at the MuseumsQuartier cultural complex and the young art scene that has emerged in the area around the Brunnenmarkt street market all contribute to creating an urban, modern atmosphere. Annual festivals like the highly popular Viennale film festival and the short film festival Vienna Independent Shorts as well as the Summer Open-Air „Music Film Festival" at the Town Hall Square, numerous open-air cinemas or the "ImPulsTanz", the festival of contemporary dance, add further colour to Vienna’s young culture scene. The hippest and most out-of-the-ordinary event of the year is the Life Ball, an AIDS charity that attracts stars like Sharon Stone, Whoopi Goldberg and Liza Minelli each year.
A second essential factor for tourism is the field of “dining, shopping and relaxation”. Obligatory visits to coffeehouses and Heuriger (wine taverns) will assuredly remain on the tourist itinerary, just like the increasing usage of the many shopping opportunities that can be found, among other things, on Mariahilfer Strasse, the city’s biggest shopping street, or on Kohlmarkt in the city centre, the hot spot of designer labels.
Well-informed, flexible, individual and financially sound
What sort of tourists come to the Austrian capital nowadays? The Vienna Visitors Poll helps to answer this question. Typical visitors to Vienna are flexible, individual and financially secure and have a higher education. Three-quarters of all visitors are under the age of 50, 43% have had a university or technical college training and a further 44% have a secondary school completion certificate. Package tours account for only one third of trips to Vienna now. The majority of guests are therefore independent travellers who come either by air or with their own car. Half of the tourists come to Vienna for the first time, the other half have been here before at least once – no less than a third are regular visitors to the city. Already more than 40% of the tourists are collecting informations about Vienna from Internet resources.
The most important criterion for coming to Vienna is, as already mentioned, the wide spectrum of artistic and cultural attractions, followed by the cityscape, sightseeing and various events. The tourists’ high level of education and financial independence is also reflected in their choice of accommodation. More than 40% of Vienna tourists choose to stay in four-star hotels, followed by three-star hotels (30%). Those who prefer to stay at five-star hotels already rank with 9% third in this list. Alternatively, leading booking websites also offer rental apartments in Vienna.
Business city with quality of life
3,151 congresses and meetings were held in Vienna in 2011. The number of overnight stays rose by 6% from 2010 to 2011 and totalled 1,412,133.
In 2011, 1,818 national and international congresses with 328,787 participants and 1,097,782 overnight stays contributed 673.70 million euros to the Austrian GDP and secured 12,490 permanent jobs. Thus, the segment of scientific congresses became a stable factor in the tourism industry even in difficult economic times.
Vienna also holds a top position when it comes to the number of international conferences: it holds together with Paris the first place in the ICCA ranking (the International Congress and Convention Association) and fourth place (behind Singapur, Paris and Brussels) in the UIA ranking (the Union of International Associations).
The most frequently addressed subjects are human medicine, followed up by politics and business as well as other natural sciences and IT & communications. The most frequently booked venues are Austria Center Vienna, Hofburg Vienna and the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center as well as universities, hotels and various palaces.
Participants of congresses and meetings tend to be more affluent than tourists. A congress tourists spends twice as much money as an average tourist in Vienna.
Surveys also confirm that congress tourists are very happy with Vienna. Apart from the fact that Vienna offers a very well developed infrastructure it has also been ranked first in the Mercer 2010 Quality of Living survey.
Many of Vienna’s congress centres are widely acclaimed by participants from abroad for their imposing building style, striking architecture and successful mixture of tradition and modernity.