This year Vienna is all set to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its most beautiful boulevard, the Wiener Ringstrasse. Besides that, this warm tourist-friendly city is preparing to welcome a larger community of Indian tourists into its fold.
In the past five years the number of nights spent by Indian travellers in hotels in Vienna has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 18.4 per cent to nearly 65,000 overnight stays in 2014.
Located in the heart of Europe, Vienna has the right mix of everything. The city represents North European lifestyle and South European efficiency. It’s a multi-dimensional city that appeals to a diverse section of Indian tourists, right from young travellers to honeymooners to families which are also the three target segments of the Vienna Tourist Board.
In an exclusive interview to India Tourism Review, Isabella Rauter, Team Manager, Vienna Tourism Board, who was recently in India to promote the Austrian capital, talks about the destination and the importance of India as a source market. Following is the excerpt:
How important is India as a source market for Vienna? Where does it stand?
Among the top 10 tourist markets for Vienna, seven are from Europe. The other three big markets are USA, Russia and Japan.
Asian markets, including India, are among the most important markets to Vienna in terms of growth rate. Travellers from India contributed to over 65000 overnight stays in just ended year 2014, registering a growth of 18.4 per cent.
We hope to attract Indian youth, honeymooners and families to explore the beauty of Vienna as a serene destination that offers something for everyone—from imperial history, art, music, Viennese food and wines produced in the local vineyards.
What, according to you, attracts Indians to Vienna? And how do you position Vienna vis-à-vis the Indian market?
Vienna as you know has been ranked the most liveable city in a ranking of over 220 cities by global consulting firm Mercer based on a host of factors—including green sustainable environment, safety levels, use of English language. Indians who love to travel as families find the place relaxing -- not too rushed, ease of commuting within the city by affordable internal public transport system – comprising buses, tram, metro and very often just on foot from the city centre.
Vienna has something for everyone—Imperial history, among the best traditions in Music, opera, Viennese cuisine, coffee house culture. Indians love the green spaces in Vienna, romantic boat rides along the river Danube during summers. The Europe’s oldest Zoo, the highest Ferris wheel in the Prater among a host of fun places to enjoy and learn for children.
How much work has been done as far as awareness about Vienna as destination is concerned among Indian travellers? And how do you plan to increase this awareness?
Vienna is actively promoted by the Vienna Tourism Board through online marketing, trade co-operation and media relations. Vienna is very active on social media –Facebook, Twitter and instagram -- with huge fan following.
Vienna’s beauty, well blended architectural traditions and collection of art and history helps it to be rated as a destination of choice by most travel magazines of repute year after year.
Most major Indian cities are conveniently connected to Vienna by a one stop on most major airlines. Austrian Airline runs a daily direct flight between Delhi and Vienna.
The Austria capital is located in the heart of Europe. Well known destinations like Budapest, Prague only a few hours away from Vienna by Road or Rail—(both Budapest and Salzburg are 2.5 hours away, Prague is 4 hours away, Bratislava is just over an hour away).
Can we expect Vienna Tourism Board to step up investment and marketing initiatives in Indian market?
Vienna Tourist Board is actively promoting the destination using digital media, frequent road shows, in major Indian cities and by entering arrangement with a number of travel agents. Vienna also form a part of a typical European holiday package by most leading travel companies.
What are your targets for Indian market and how do plan to engage with travel trade to achieve the same?
Vienna hopes to record over 100,000 overnight stays from Indian travellers on the back of a robust 18.4 pc growth in 2014. Travel agents and airlines are important for attracting tourists to Vienna and we engage with them through face to face interactions in road shows in India, digital connect, through the year.
Indians still need a Schengen visa to travel to Austria which takes about 10-15 days to be processed. Can we expect a visa waiver or fast-tracking of visa issuing process anytime in near future?
A Schengen visa that allows travellers to visit 26 countries in Europe and Ausgtria is one of the nations. The Schengen visa therefore presents and an opportunity to travellers to visit multiple cities in Europe. Most Indian travellers tend to combine visit to Vienna, Budapest and Prague in one trip.
Vienna is considered as one of the most expensive destinations. Is that merely a perception and if not, do you think you face a tough challenge from cities such as Warsaw, Budapest etc. which are relatively inexpensive destinations?
Vienna is an affordable city with hotels in a range of star categories, plenty of options exist for eating to suit all pockets. The Vienna Card allows travel on the underground, bus and tram for 48 or 72 hours with discounts on sights, guided tours, sightseeing tours, in shops, restaurants and wine taverns.