Growth sector spa and healthcare tourism - Austria is one of the first countries to adopt and successfully implement the "Spa and Healthcare Concept".

Since the middle of the 1950s the tourism industry has been established as a very significant economic sector. From a historical point of view, the characteristic form of modern mass tourism as we know it, is actually a quite young phenomenon. Nevertheless, tourism assumed such an expansive character that, under consideration of sales and employment figures, this sector has grown to one of the largest branches of economy worldwide.

The significance of the tourism for the Austrian economy is not only interesting when it comes to the monetary aspect. The high economic significance of the Austrian tourism sector implies corresponding effects on the employment situation. The global development of the tourism sector can be considered as quite positive. According to international data, the world tourism recovered from the impacts of the financial crisis in 2010 and has, apart from that, been able to even top the level of the years before the crisis.

Austrian tourism represents a driving force of the economy and job generator at the same time. Besides that, an international comparison showed that Austria boasts the highest density in visitors per inhabitant. Austria´s tourism sector is driven by top professionals who are worldwide renowned for their outstanding competence in this domain. Every year the remarkable know-how in the tourism builds a lasting impression with the visitors of Austria, which proves as attractive promotion.

Characteristics of the Austrian tourism sector

The estimated value of the tourism sector for the overall economic gross value creation has been on a steady level over the last two years. The Austrian sector “accomodation and gastronomy“ is rather dominated by small sized enterprises, which is also indicated by the sector figures and statistics of the employment size classes for 2011 (Statistik Austria). It is however remarkable that the share of these businesses and companies accounts for more than a quarter of the gross value creation in the entire tourism sector. The tourism industry of Austria is distinguished for its differentiated environment and is deemed to be location-based.

The most important areas of this sector include companies of the catering-, accommodation-, and leisure sector, as well travel agencies as organizations through to private rehabilitation facilities. Thus one might speak of a “multiplier effect” to that extent that both primary and secondary sectors, as well as non-tourism segments are – with respect to sales - fed by the tourism industry. Like for instance the foodstuff industry, the textile and clothing sector, or the transport segment. According to data by Statistik Austria and analyses conducted by the economic research institute Austria, the tourism´s contribution (direct and indirect value creation) in 2010 was at EUR 42.8 billion which corresponds to a share of 15.1 percent in the GDP.

The diversity of the Austrian tourism offer is, among other things, reflected by the various attractions and amenities of the regions and states. Summer tourism is for instance strongly prevalent in almost all parts of Kärnten and the Salzkammergut. Winter tourism, on the other hand, dominates in the Arlberg region. Spa towns and city show a mixed seasonal structure. The unchallenged leader in the city tourism segment is the country´s capitol Vienna, followed by the city of Mozart Salzburg, and Innsbruck. With a number of 125 million overnight-stays in 2010, the states Tyrol and Salzburg stick out as market leader. The duo achieves a share of almost 50 percent when it comes to the proportional distribution of the stays.

A figurehead with added value! 

Austria boasts the world´s highest density of touristic visitors per inhabitant. With a hotel room density of 3.5 rooms per 100 inhabitants (ÖHV, press release 2011), Austria cuts even strongholds of the tourism industry such as Spain, Greece, and Italy down to size. Apart from that, the Austrian tourism has made it to a remarkable position in the global competition. The small country makes the whole industry listen up with striking market shares: A global market share of 2.35 percent in the entire tourism-related value creation is attributable to the Alpine Republic. With a whopping 14.13 percent (WTO, Austria promotion – Tourism in figures 2011) the market share in West Europe comes out surprisingly high. The proportion of foreigners in Austria reaches an unbelievable 73.4 percent (Eurostat 2009) and is hence far ahead from Switzerland with only 60 percent. Also Italy, France, and Germany rank behind Austria, coming out with under 50 percent in the proportion of foreigners when it comes to overnight-stays.

A quite positive trend is indicated by the figures for arrivals and overnight-stays of guests coming from Central and East Europe. In 2010 the amount of people from this area, who stayed overnight, was at a remarkable 9 million (Statistik Austria). This figure has nearly doubled over the recent five years!

Growth sector wellness and healthcare tourism – The Alpine Republic is one of the first countries that has adopted and successfully implemented the „Wellness and Healthcare Concept“. Not only this has catapulted Austria to the position of one of the international market leaders in the booming „Spa-Tourism“ (thermal baths and spas), but also it has made the country a pioneer in the marketing of the healthcare and wellness tourism.

As regards the growth of the tourism-related value creation in Austria, the highest potential is seen in the culture and city tourism, the winter sports tourism, as well as short vacations in the wellness area.

The Austrian tourism sector sticks out with competence, expertise, tourism-related training programs that fulfill the highest standards, innovations in the field of research like e.g. T-MONA (TourismMonitorAustria) an instrument to be used in the destination marketing sector. Combined with the wide range of impressive landscape scenery, sights, and quality gastronomy, Austria is and remains a destination that makes the promise of ADDED value and keeps it.

Editorial department: Mag. Sandra Hollersbacher