Tourism is an important industry for the economy of Austria. It contributed 7.6 % to the GDP in the pre-pandemic year 2019 (2020: 4.5 %, 2021: 4.1 %), according to the Austrian Tourism Satellite Account. Domestic and foreign guests spent around 37.9 billion euros in 2019 (2020: 21.3 billion euros; 2021: 20.8 billion euros).
The added value of tourism (direct and indirect) accounts for 30.3 billion euros in 2019 (2020: 17.0 billion euros; 2021: 16.6 billion euros). In 2019, the average nominal tourism export per capita was 2 308 euros (2020: 1 360 euros; 2021: 801 euros). While in 2019 the full-time employment rate in tourism was 5.6 %, this rate dropped to 3.5 % in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the situation eased and tourism accounted again 5.5 % of all full-time employees.
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.
- … 695 mountain peaks higher than 3 000 m, 6 national parks, 48 nature parks, around 600 mountain huts, 64 000 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.
- … 12 UNESCO world heritages and numerous UNESCO immaterial cultural heritages (such as the Christmas Carol "Silent Night", the Spanish Riding School and the Viennese coffee house culture); plenty of festivals and shows every year, stretching from small regional gatherings to major international 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.
- … around 68 000 accommodation establishments with more than 1.3 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.
- … numerous convention hotels, 88 convention and exhibition halls and many other special event locations, hosting around 10 400 congresses, conferences and seminars with half a million participants generating 811 000 overnights in 2021.
- … about 75 thermal baths and countless wellness hotels and health resorts.
* Pre-crisis figures
Guests in Austria
In 2019, 46.2 million guests were registered (of which 31.9 million were international tourists). They spent 152.7 million overnights in different accommodation facilities. This historic record is based on increasing 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. In 2021, Austria welcomed 22.1 million guests (incl. 12.7 million international tourists), who spent 79.6 million overnights. This corresponds roughly to the figures in the 1970ies/1980ies and is approximately only half of the pre-crisis peak level of 2019 (arrivals -52.1 %, overnight stays -47.9 %). The three most important source markets continue to be Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. They generate over 80 % of all overnights.
Since 2017, the T-MONA online guest survey of the ANTO has provided over 86 000 responses. 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 offers and hotels/accommodations in the wintertime. Guests are searching for recreation, exercise, nature and culture. They spend their holidays mostly as a couple (41 %) or family with kids between 6 and 13 years (15 %). Results of a survey in summer 2021 indicate that the average recommendation rate of Austria's guests is 9.5 (out of max. 10 points).
Destinations in Austria
During the years 2019 to 2021, the majority of guests travelled to Tyrol and Salzburg. Vienna, the capital city of Austria, used to be the third most visited destination in Austria for many years. As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused challenges for city and MICE (meetings, incentives, congresses, events) destinations, the market share of Vienna has dropped from 11 % in 2019 to 6 % in 2021.
Based on summer 2021, the average expenditure per tourist and per night in Austria amounted to 152 euros (excluding passenger transport). In 2019, Austria’s guests stayed on average 3.3 days (2020: 3.9 days; 2021: 3.6 days). In summer 2019, 72 % of all tourists travelled to Austria by car, 11 % by airplane and 10 % by train. The pandemic increased travel by car whereas travel by airplane was noticeable lower (summer 2021: 86 % by car, 6 % by train, 3 % by caravan/camper and 2 % by airplane).