Back to the Future

2019 was the most successful chapter in Vienna’s history as a tourist destination. 2020 was the worst since the second world war. The pandemic knocked out every tried-and-tested mechanism there was – and the tourism industry remains one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy. After a great start to 2020 with record after record in January and February, Covid-19 took us back to a level of bednights not seen since 1981. Repeated lockdowns forced accommodation and hospitality providers, as well as virtually every other participant in our visitor economy, into a months-long standstill. At best, they were able to operate on an intermittent basis. The slump in demand triggered by the travel restrictions turned into a collapse in the very cultural offering that our city is known for all over the world. And the human suffering caused by this situation can scarcely be measured in numbers. In financial terms, Covid-19 robbed Vienna of around EUR 2.8 billion in induced economic impact, which according to the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Wifo) otherwise amounts to around EUR 4 billion in a good year. This 70% drop saw the annual total plummet to EUR 1.2 billion. It is still not possible to fully ascertain the effect of this development on the approximately 116,000 jobs in Vienna’s leisure and tourism industry.

With a shared goal in mind, we are all working together to weather the crisis. In spite of all the measures put in place by the Vienna Tourist Board with the support of the City of Vienna and all of the other stakeholders in the visitor economy, we still have a long road ahead of us before we can go back to the future and pick up where we left off. As in the past, the City of Vienna and the Vienna Tourist Board will continue to work closely with you as the capital’s tourist industry gradually returns to normal. But during this process, we will not lose sight of our core belief that going forward, the tourism sector – seen as a visitor economy – should focus even more clearly on sustainable development that does not undermine the foundations of its success, but is aligned with the city's targets and the needs of the people who live here. More than ever, the principle task before us is to promote sustainable and meaningful tourism, and in some cases cast it afresh.

Even though we will have to adapt many targets to reflect the change in circumstances, the basic principles of the Visitor Economy Strategy, developed with Vienna’s tourism industry, are still every bit as valid. The current situation could not be more difficult. But the commitment of everyone involved to achieving our goals could not be greater. Let’s get down to work – together.

Peter Hanke
Executive City Councillor of Finance, Business, Labour, International Affairs and Vienna Public Utilities

President of the Vienna Tourist Board

Norbert Kettner

Director, Vienna Tourist Board