Updated on November 6, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Austria is a giant in tourism. Almost 30 million international visitors visit Austria each year. The country has a spotless reputation as a top travel destination and is recognized as the “most tourism-friendly” by the World Economic Forum.

Martin Winkler, CEO of Austria’s leading private-sector tourism player, Verkehrsbüro Group explained that nearly 10% of Austria’s inhabitants are directly or indirectly working in tourism. Tourism is an important sector of the Austrian economy, and it’s a growing sector. AfterCyprus, Austria ranks second in the European Union in terms of tourism revenues in proportion to the population.

Here, we explain some of the top trends and statistics in the Austrian Tourism industry.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

Like many other industries, the Austrian tourism industry is adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown in spring2020, overnight stays in Austria dropped by almost 100%. Over the summer, tourism activity recovered strongly with domestic and German tourists. But it still remained clearly below 2019 levels. In October 2020, there was again an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections and this situation led to another severe downturn in Austrian tourism, as several neighboring countries also posted travel warnings at that time. On November 2, 2020, a second lockdown started in Austria – accommodation establishments and restaurants were closed. Despite all the severity of Covid-19, Austria is on the way to its recovery and welcoming tourists again in Austria.

Pre- and Post-pandemic trends and statistics

  1. Tourism is an important industry for the economy of Austria and it contributed 7.5 % to the GDP in the pre-crisis year 2019.
  2. According to the Austrian Tourism Satellite Account, domestic and foreign guests spent around 37.7 billion euros in 2019 while in 2020, the spending decreased to 26.5 billion euros.
  3. Now in 2022, the “3-G” rule (vaccinated/recovered or tested) for arrivals to Austria is lifted on May 16, 2022.
  4. There are currently no COVID-19-related entry restrictions in effect for Austria.
  5. During the stay, FFP 2 masks are no longer mandatory in essential shops and when using public transport in all Austrian federal provinces except for Vienna.
  6. In Vienna only, FFP 2 masks remain compulsory on public transport and in pharmacies.
  7. Children under the age of 6 are exempt, those from 6 to 13 can wear a regularmask while FFP2 masks are mandatory from the age of 14.
  8. The Austrian Ministry for Tourism has revealed that the number of Austrians carrying out trips domestically has substantially increased, reaching a total of 9.5 million vacation trips with more than one overnight stay.
  9. In 2021, a total of 16.1 million trips spent by Austrian residents were recorded, with the number showing an increase of 27.5% compared to the previous year when Austrians carried out a total of 12.6 million vacations.

Contribution of Tourism in Austria

  1. The direct value-added effect of tourism on the Austrian economy in 2018 is calculated to be EUR 25 billion (excluding business trips), or 6.5% of GDP, according to the Austrian Tourism Satellite Account (TSA).
  2. Based on the TSA, some 244 000 full-time job equivalents were directly attributed to tourism-related industries in 2017.
  3. Tourism contributes6.4% of overall employment in Austria.
  4. Travel exports represented 30.9% of total service exports in 2018.
  5. The number of international tourist arrivals in all accommodation establishments (commercial and private) was 30.8 million in 2018, which was up 4.6% over 2017.
  6. The number of bednights amounted to 110.4 million (up 4.2%).
  7. The fastest-growing source markets compared with 2017 were Germany (up 2.7 million bednights), the Netherlands (up 0.3 million), and the Czech Republic (up 0.2 million).
  8. Declines were registered from Switzerland and Liechtenstein (down 89 000 bednights), Italy (down 35 000), and Turkey (down 21 000).
  9. Income from inbound tourism totalled EUR 19.5 billion, a rise of 7.4%.
  10. Spending by Austrian residents abroad also increased by 7.3% to EUR 10.1 billion.
  11. Domestic tourist arrivals in paid accommodation totalled 14.0 million in 2018(up 3.0%) with 39.4 million bednights registered (up 2.2%).
  12. Record highs were registered during both the winter and summer seasons of 2018 with 5.9 million and 8.2 millionarrivals respectively.
  13. In 2020, Austria recorded a total of 15 million tourists.
  14. In 2020, Austria was ranked 18th in the world in absolute terms.
  15. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Austria, the country is ranked 32nd in the world with 1.7 tourists per resident.
  16. In Western Europe, Austria ranked 3rd.
  17. Austria generated around 15.36 billion US dollars in the tourism sector alone.
  18. Austrian tourism contributed3.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and approximately 18% of all international tourism receipts in Western Europe.
  19. The most popular city in Austria for international travelers is Vienna.
  20. In 2019, Vienna reached 39th place among the world’s most popular cities with 6.63 million tourists.

Tourism Industry Insight

  1. Due to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Austrian tourism industry is once again characterized by a high degree of uncertainty. ‘
  2. The war in Ukraine is expected to have a negative impact on the overall demand for vacations in Austria.
  3. The price increases in many countries are also expected to restrict travellers’budgets, thus causing the positive trend to drop.
  4. Each year the World Economic Forum selects the best tourism destinations and evaluates the attractiveness and development potential of approx. 140 countries and Austria is rated an outstanding twelve in the world.
  5. In terms of its tourist service infrastructure, Austria is even ranked number one globally by the World Economic Forum.
  6. Numerous international investors, from Starwood, Falkensteiner, Hilton, and Steigenberger to Motel One Group, Accor, and Landal Green Parks, already profit from the culture, scenery, and highly qualified employees in Austria.
  7. Over 90% of hotels in Austria are family-run.
  8. Other than university courses of study and private universities, there are more than 40 study programs at universities of applied sciences and 28 schools offer an education in the field of tourism with guaranteed quality.
  9. Every tenth trainee in Austria works in the tourism sector.

Other Tourist-related Trends

  1. The snow-capped peaks of the AustrianCentral Alps attract several tourists passionate about ski and winter sports every year and are quintessentially Austrian.
  2. The concert culture is still prevalent throughout the country, where music lovers can tour a collection of concert halls and attend many free concerts across the main cities such as Vienna and Salzburg.
  3. From exciting skitrips and stunning Christmas markets in winter to relaxing summer strolls across the dreamy shores of lakes in the summertime, Austria is an ideal destination all year round.
  4. Austria is one of the cleanest and greenest places in the world.
  5. Austria is renowned for its Christmas markets, all those night markets set up amid swirling snow and fairy lights, ensconced within fragrances of coffees and ales and mulled wines and gingerbread.
  6. Austria is the dream destination for exploring architectural sites.
  7. Austria is considered the heart of the European musical scene and Salzburg is one of the best examples.
  8. ZOOM Children’s Museum is one of the best tourist places to visit with children where they can investigate, marvel at, and participate in numerous exhibitions and events at this fabulous museum.
  9. Visitors would love to visit Dachstein Caves where they can discover the fairytale world of the Ice Cave and follow in the footsteps of the cave researchers through the Mammut Cave and the Koppenbrüller Cave on their trip to Dachstein in Salzkammergut.
  10. Visitors also love to visit Hallstatt Salt Mine to experience an exciting escapade through the oldest salt mine in the world.
  11. Any family holiday in Carinthia (Austria) needs to account for a stop at the Obir Stalactite Caves, which is a fascinating natural wonder.
  12. Whether it’s alpine or downhillskiing has been the most popular sport in Austria for more than 100 years.
  13.  The Austrian National Library in Vienna is home to more than 2 million books and is one of the world’s major libraries.
  14. The single highest-selling energy drink on the planet “Red Bull” was created in Austria.
  15. Austria is always among the countries with the highest standard of living in the world.