Austria’s winter tourism season was a total failure
According to economists, Vienna and western Austria were hit the hardest, with losses amounting to more than 95 percent compared to the period before Corona.
The first four months of the current winter tourism season – November to February – were practically a total failure, say Wifo economists in their latest analysis. They also expect revenues for 2021 as a whole to be halved compared to the pre-Corona year of 2019. Accommodation businesses in Vienna and in the western provinces of Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg suffered most from the lockdown, with losses of more than 95 percent.
While the lockdown imposed at the beginning of November 2020 was lifted for retailers in the second week of February 2021, accommodation and catering establishments remained largely closed. Only business travelers and spa guests were allowed to use accommodations. Accordingly, guest arrivals fell 95.1 percent year over year, and overnight stays and revenues plummeted 93.5 percent, the Economic Research Institute estimated in its tourism analysis.
Wifo does not expect accommodation establishments to reopen until mid-May at the earliest – “vacationing overnight guests are therefore likely to be the exception in the winter of 2020/21, rather overall very low demand will be limited to business travellers and spa guests..
Assuming the lifting of the tourist entry ban for lodging establishments in the second half of May and the lifting of the travel warning for the most important foreign markets in mid-June, Wifo expects overnight stays in the calendar year 2021 to fall by around one-fifth compared with the already weak Corona year 2020. Compared to the previous peak in 2019, this means a decline of 49 percent.
Five billion euros loss for Tyrol’s cable car operators
Empty slopes in the best conditions in Tyrol’s ski resorts were not uncommon in this year’s winter season – and this is also reflected in the figures. Cable car chairman and ÖVP member of parliament Franz Hörl told the Tyrolean edition of the “Kronen Zeitung” on Monday that the deficit would amount to about five billion euros. Final figures, however, were not yet available, he said.
Naturally, therefore, things did not look rosy for investments either. “Investments have dropped to a minimum,” Hörl reported. Nevertheless, he was optimistic: “If you consider that Austria is one of the most modernly equipped ski landscapes, we will probably be able to cope with this pause.” In the future, however, investments should be made “in the spirit of ecology and sustainability,” Hörl said.
In absolute terms, only around 700,000 arrivals and around 3.5 million overnight stays were recorded in Austrian accommodation establishments from November 2020 to February 2021. While revenues from total travel (including day trips and expenditure in the course of visiting relatives and acquaintances) amounted to a nominal 0.76 billion euros, according to initial estimates by Wifo.
The federal capital and western Austria were hardest hit: In Vienna, overnight stays and sales fell by 94.4 percent, in Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg by an average of 97.4 percent. In Lower Austria, at least, around 37 percent of the 2019/20 level was achieved, namely by the remaining operation in health resorts, the accommodation of workers (especially in the construction industry) and sports events.
Possible wave of bankruptcies
The dramatic decline in overnight stays is likely to lead to a wave of bankruptcies in tourism. “however, we would not expect that for this year, but only in the course of the coming years, when the loans that the companies have received must then be repaid,” said Wifo tourism expert Oliver Fritz.
Source: Der Standard