Tourism is an important industry for the economy of Austria and it contributed 7.5 % to the GDP in the pre-crisis year 2019 (2020: 5.5 %). According to the Austrian Tourism Satellite Account, domestic and foreign guests spent around 37.7 billion euros in 2019 (2020: 26.5 billion euros).
The added value of tourism (direct and indirect) accounts for more than 29.7 billion euros in 2019 (2020: 20.5 billion euros). Tourism also contributes positively to the Austrian balance of payments. Austria´s nominal tourism exports per capita is 2 291 euros in 2019 (2020: 1 586 euros), much higher than the European Union’s average of 816 euros (2020: 359 euros). Based on 2019, 5.8 % of all full-time employees (2020: 4.8 %) work in the Austrian accommodation and gastronomy sector, including leisure companies and facilities.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the figures of 2020 are significantly lower compared to the pre-crisis year 2019.
The reasons for the positive development, before the COVID-19 crisis, of the Austrian Tourism are diverse: the majestic Alps, the Danube, beautiful rivers and lakes with drinking water quality, lovely cities, Austria's immemorial history and its richness of culture, the central location in the heart of Europe as well as its culinary art. Hospitality and service quality in small family businesses with strong regional and traditional bonds add to a unique and authentic tourism experience.
- around 68 400 accommodation establishments with more than 1.1 million beds.
- 1 110 ropeway installations and 1 820 ski-tows as well as 23 700 hectares of ski slopes (of which 70 % can be covered by artificial snow), generating a cash turnover of around 1.55 billion Euros, and turning Austria – where every sixth skier day in the world is counted – into one of the top skiing destinations of Europe.
- 695 mountain peaks higher than 3 000 m, 6 national parks, 46 nature parks, around 630 mountain huts, 50 000 km hiking trails and more than 14 000 km cycling routes inviting guests to not only active but also relaxing outdoor holidays. The Alps cover nearly two-thirds of Austria's surface.
- *11 UNESCO world heritages and numerous UNESCO immaterial cultural heritages (such as the Christmas Carol "Silent Night", the High School of the Spanish Riding School and the Viennese coffee house culture); more than 2 400 festivals and shows every year, stretching from small regional gatherings to world scale events; more than 12 900 plays and concerts per year attracting 5.4 million theatre lovers; 745 museums showing 800 annual special exhibitions; and 38 000 protected monuments that are part of the multifaceted cultural highlights of Austria.
- *numerous convention hotels, 94 universities and educational institutions, 88 convention and exhibition halls and many other special event locations, hosting around 4°900°congresses, 11 100 conferences and 5 400 seminars, attracting more than 1.7 million MICE participants per year. Vienna is the second most important meeting city in the world.
- *about 70 thermal baths and countless recreational hotels and health resorts, generating more than 18 million overnights per year.
Guests in Austria
Austria welcomed 46.2 million guests, including 32 million international tourists, who spent around 152.7 million overnights in 2019. These figures are historical record highs, which are based on a rising demand with an average growth rate of 4.0 % per year between 2015 and 2019. However, the COVID-19 crisis has stopped the upward trend due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. In 2020, Austria welcomed 25 million guests (incl. 15 million international tourists), who spent 97.9 million overnights in Austria. The three most important source markets in the past years – Germany, Austria and the Netherlands – generated over 70 % of all overnights. From 2019 to 2020, there was a noticeable increase of the domestic market to 32 % (+7 %).
The Austrian National Tourist Office provides the T-MONA online guest survey with over 74 000 responses since 2017. According to the results, the three main reasons for choosing Austria as a holiday destination are mountains, landscape/nature as well as the wide offer of hiking trails in the summertime, and attractiveness of ski areas, winter sports offer and hotels/accommodations in the wintertime. Guests are searching for recreation, exercise, nature and culture. They spend their holidays mostly as a couple (35 %) or family with kids between 6 and 13 years (16 %). The average recommendation rate of Austria’s guests is 9.4 (out of max. 10 points) and proves that their desires are met.
Destinations in Austria
In 2019 and 2020, the majority of guests travelled to Tyrol and Salzburg. Usually Vienna, the capital city of Austria, is the third most visited destination in Austria, but the COVID-19 crisis has caused an increase of visitors in leisure destinations, such as Carinthia and Styria. Hence, the market share of Vienna has dropped from 11 % in 2019 to 5 % in 2020.
Based on 2019, guests in Austria spend on average 163 euros per day in summer (50 % for accommodation, 15 % for food and 9 % for transport on site) and 185 euros per day in winter (49 % for accommodation, 14 % for food and 15 % for transport on site). In the same year, Austria’s tourists stayed on average 3.3 days (2020: 3.9 days), mainly in 5/4 stars hotels (25.7 %), private holiday homes (19.6 %) and 3 stars hotels (18.9 %). In 2019, 73 % of all guests travelled to Austria by car, 11 % by airplane and 10 % by train. To compare, in 2020 the number of guests travelling by car was higher whereas the number of tourists travelling by airplane was noticeable lower (83 % by car, 6 % by train and 5 % by airplane).