AUSTRIA – Congress city Vienna notches up records for all indicators in 2012

AUSTRIA – Congress city Vienna notches up records for all indicators in 2012

At a press conference on Wednesday, March 13, Norbert Kettner (image), Director of Tourism, and Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Tourist Board’s Vienna Convention Bureau, presented Vienna’s best congress report of all time.

In 2012 peak values were obtained for all indicators of the Vienna conference industry: there were 7% more congresses and corporate events than in 2011, 8% more bednights, and 9% more national value-added. Vienna optimally caters for the current trends in the international convention business, and its congress calendar for 2013 means that this success story is likely to be continued.

norbert.jpg“The results for the congress and conference sector in 2012 are every bit as good as the record tourist results which Vienna achieved last year,” reported Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner. “Here, too, all the indicators are at the highest level ever attained. The number of congresses and corporate events increased by 7% compared to 2011 to 3,376, whilst the resulting bednights rose by 8%, exceeding the 1.5 million mark for the first time ever – 1,521,170 to be precise. The national value-added generated by the Vienna conference industry was up by 9%, contributing an amount of 914.7 million euros to the gross domestic product and securing approximately 17,500 year-round jobs.”

christian.jpgCommenting on these results, Christian Mutschlechner (image), Director of the Vienna Tourist Board’s Vienna Convention Bureau, said: “This record report is all the more remarkable in that it deviates from a `rule´ that we have seen over the long-term observation period: generally speaking, even years are weaker than odd ones in the Vienna congress industry. This is attributable to the various cycles resulting from the destinations chosen by large, `globally mobile´ international congresses. However, as we have seen, 2012 was a notable exception to this rule. The development of bednights in the congress and conference sector was almost identical with that of the tourism industry as a whole. The proportion of total bednights accounted for by this sector therefore also remained unchanged at 12.4%.”

Out of a total of 3,376 events in 2012 (+7%), 1,146 were congresses (+13%), of which 439 were national (+16%) and 707 international (+11%), with 2,230 corporate events. Tax revenues generated by these events totaled 258 million euros, of which 169.8 million euros went to the federal government, 30.9 million euros to Vienna, and the remainder to the provinces and local authorities.

Spending by Vienna’s congress and conference delegates is significantly higher than that of leisure tourists. In 2012 their spending averaged about 480 euros per head and bednight, whereas the comparable figure for all Vienna visitors was just over 265 euros.

Vienna has always owed its success as a congress destination mainly to international congresses, and these dominated the 2012 report more strongly then ever. Although they represent “only” 21% of all events, they attract half of all delegates, 74% of bednights, and 79% of value-added in this sector.

Norbert Kettner explained: “In order to attract international congresses, a destination must meet the right conditions – with respect to infrastructure as well as atmosphere and reputation. Not only does Vienna have a first-rate position here, but it is also improving continuously. Although our new hotels have sometimes come in for criticism, in this respect they are an important asset, just like the Golden Quarter currently under construction and the revamping of the areas around the main railway station and Vienna’s ice skating rink. However, the most important thing is international accessibility, which is why I should like to stress once again the importance of a third runway for Vienna International Airport. It should be borne in mind that 76% of our congress guests – and this includes national congresses – travel by air: for international congresses this figure is 81%.”

Christian Mutschlechner provided the following information about the latest trends in the international congress industry: “The results for 2012 show us that, as far as international congresses are concerned – and these are particularly important for Vienna – there has been an especially rapid increase in the fields of human medicine, the arts and IT/telecommunications, whereas events with economic, political and natural scientific themes have declined. This trend is extremely beneficial for us. On the one hand because Vienna has traditionally had a very high international reputation in the field of medicine, which influences the choice of destination for appropriate congresses, with both these factors interacting positively with one another. On the other hand, the breakneck speed with which the field of IT/telecommunications is expanding creates greater demand for congresses, increasing the potential which we can draw upon. In other respects, too, the outlook for the coming years is also very promising, because congresses are generally becoming an increasingly important factor in the additional training of researchers in all areas of expertise”.

Moreover, very early on Vienna hit a soft spot of the international congress industry by rapidly building up expertise with respect to `Green Meetings´, thus gaining a competitive advantage over rival destinations. The Austrian capital already has 16 licensees that are authorized to certify environmentally-friendly congresses. The Vienna Convention Bureau is one of them, certifying five such events in 2012: there were a total of 28 `Green Meetings´ in Vienna last year. This year there will be more of them, and their number will grow rapidly over the next few year, as it is increasingly becoming a question of image for congress organizers worldwide to stage `green´ events.

Vienna’s congress calendar for the current year also gives grounds for optimism, and it is therefore anticipated that this success story will continue.