Austria prepares for GCC push

The Austrian National Tourist Office is preparing to open its first Middle East office as it steps up the pace of its promotional efforts in the region.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  September 3, 2006

The Austrian National Tourist Office is preparing to open its first Middle East office as it steps up the pace of its promotional efforts in the region. With the number of Middle East tourists visiting Austria steadily increasing each year, with a 57% year-on-year hike reported in 2005 and a 20% rise witnessed for the first five months of 2006, the time is ripe to have regional representation, according to Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, who will be heading-up the Dubai-based office when it opens on October 1. “The GCC is a very important market for us. The number of bed nights for Arabian guests in Austria in 2005, was 265,000. It has already reached the level of Chinese and Australian guests, both of which are important markets for Austria,” he said. “In particular, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are becoming important source markets. This is also reflected in the steadily increasing number of flights between Vienna and Dubai. At present, Emirates Airlines flies daily to Vienna, Austrian Airlines, six times weekly, and China Airlines recently established a three-times-a-week service from Abu Dhabi. The flight time from the Gulf is just five hours, which is proving a key selling point. “During the year, short city breaks to Vienna are becoming en vogue. No other European city can be reached that fast,” said Ehrenbrandtner. “Ski holidays have become an important factor. Our guests like the combination of an impressive alpine landscape and excellent accommodation.” The most popular Austrian destinations with Arab guests are Vienna, Salzburg and Zell am See, he said. From October 1, Ehrenbrandtner will be visiting the Austrian Tourist Board’s key business partners in the Gulf to “discuss future operations”. “We will definitely work very closely with the travel trade and are already preparing several cooperations with tour operators for 2007,” he said. “In February we will organise a series of events presenting Austria’s top destinations and hotels to the travel trade in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Doha.”

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