Austria's Lift Co’s Start Summer With An Optimistic View Of The Coming Months

As part of the press conference for the start of the summer, Austria Tourist Board together with the Association of Cable Cars (Austrian Chamber of Commerce) and the quality initiative "Best Austrian Summer Mountain Railways" took a look back at the mountain summer of 2021 and at the expectations, trends and activities for the coming season received.

Weddig: The economic importance of summer tourism is increasing in the long term

The economic importance of summer tourism has increased steadily in recent years. "Both in overnight stays (from 62 million to 79 million) and in sales (from 9.5 billion euros to 14.5 billion) there were significant increases from 2009 to the pre-corona year 2019. The record numbers from August (over 20 million overnight stays) and September 2021 (over 11.7 million overnight stays) together with the potential of recent years make us positive for the summer season,” says Lisa Weddig, Managing Director of Österreich Werbung .

Based on the latest demand trends from the most important markets, Weddig is optimistic about the coming summer months: "Our surveys show that Austria's strengths in the most popular types of vacation have increased again since the end of March. The interest in relaxing vacations, nature vacations and hiking vacations has increased significantly."

Good prospects for the coming months

The Austrian bookings in the summer of 2022 will be on a broader basis than last year (DACH region: 82%): There are positive signals from the Central Eastern European markets, as well as from Southern Europe, the Netherlands and the Arab countries. But there is also continued stable demand from the USA and the DACH region. “We know from our market experts that there is a good booking situation for the summer. For example, while we were still skeptical about the Central Eastern European region due to the Ukraine conflict, the picture is currently more positive,” says Weddig about the current situation in CEE.

"Although the inflation rates in our eastern neighboring countries are sometimes well above the EU average, our corona easing and the excellent offer for numerous target groups, such as hiking vacationers, give us every reason for optimism. The unrestricted opening of the Southeast Asian market makes us look to the coming months with hope, especially for city tourism. The withdrawal of lockdown measures in China is also a positive signal,” says Weddig, summarizing the demand situation in Austria.

Hörl: "Corona Summer" 2021 was a success for cable cars - optimism for 2022 is justified

20.4 million first-time entries, box office sales of 234 million euros and 25,800 operating days - that is the balance of the mountain summer 2021 of the Austrian cable cars. “The summer has proven to be a real source of success, not least in the pandemic summers. We've seen increases of up to 20 percent in first-time admissions. An enormously positive development that started years ago,” says Franz Hörl, chairman of the Cable Car Association (WKÖ), summing up the summer season from the point of view of the cable car industry and its generally increasing economic importance for the industry.

For Hörl, the recipe for success in the cable car industry is above all the strong quality, diversification of the offer and the ability to implement trends perfectly. “We are looking forward to the summer with optimism, as we see a growing desire to travel and the longing for positive experiences among our guests. In addition, we have expanded the offer for our various target groups, such as families or mountain bikers," Hörl continues.

Grundner: Best Austrian summer mountain railways as a promise of quality and performance

Kornel Grundner, spokesman for the “Best Austrian Summer Mountain Railways” (BÖSB), which now has 76 mountain railways with 91 themed mountains, emphasizes the importance of the quality initiative: “The seal of quality is an initiative that is unique in the Alps. In no other country is there such a close alliance of cable cars to get professionally involved in strengthening summer mountain tourism. With its 160 quality criteria, an initiative originally planned as a checklist has become a promise of quality and performance for the industry.
It is not without pride that Grundner emphasizes Austria's development into a year-round holiday destination. "For the guests, the variety of offers apart from skiing in winter creates an increase in added value and in the image, year-round jobs are offered and regional partners* benefit from the attraction that mountain railways also offer in summer," Grundner continues.

Sustainability as a "must have" for the Austrian mountain summer

Sustainability on holiday is becoming increasingly important for many guests. For the ropeway industry, sustainability is an all-encompassing term that includes the three dimensions of economy, ecology and social issues. Accordingly, work is being done on operational measures in all areas, such as climate-friendly mobility models, the use of sustainable energy sources or energy efficiency measures, emphasizes Chairman Hörl. In addition, from the point of view of the industry, the topics of year-round employment and tourism are essential for sustainable regional development.

“As part of our own BÖSB think tank, we are working on promoting sustainability in summer operations as well. For example, we have included sustainability dimensions, such as nature and environmental protection, in the quality criteria. In addition, we collect the status quo of the numerous operational sustainability measures of our members,” Grundner summarizes the sustainability initiatives of the quality initiative.

Lisa Weddig also confirms the trend towards sustainability: “According to our summer potential study, sustainability plays a role in the booking decision for the majority of respondents in all markets. In 2020, 22 percent of Germans took sustainability into account when making their travel decisions. This year, sustainability is already relevant for 63 percent of Germans when planning their trip.”

According to Weddig, Austria also has the right offers for the increased demand for sustainable holidays. In addition, international sustainability rankings and surveys show that Austria is one of the top nations in the field of sustainability. "It is also gratifying that we are anchored in the minds of guests as a sustainable holiday destination: Of the 23 European destinations surveyed in the current summer potential study, Austria is ranked among the Austrians, the Germans, the Czechs and the Hungarians and the Swiss among the top 3 most sustainable destinations,” Weddig emphasizes Austria’s reputation as a sustainable tourism location.

Mountain summer 2022 - the trends of the coming months

With their current lightning survey, the BÖSB asked their members what they expect from the coming summer: “Summer holidays in the mountains are very trendy and our guests want the experience factor. We see that classic hiking is often not enough for many people. We have the appropriate range of nature experiences on the mountain for this,” Grundner summarizes the feedback.

Summer campaign #realAustria can still make the difference

“The trend towards booking at short notice is continuing – all current surveys show that. That's why it's important that we continue to be present in the most important markets with our summer campaign under the umbrella of #realAustria," says Lisa Weddig on the campaign activities of the Austrian Tourist Board. With the campaign, Österreich Werbung, together with 60 partners from the Austrian tourism industry, has been active in eight markets since April, with a clear focus on digital channels.

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