Austria's Tourism Industry

With just over 20 million tourists visiting Austria every year, the tiny Alpine state is ranked 12th in the world when it comes to international tourist arrivals. Austria's name (Österreich) means "Eastern Empire" in the vernacular and this refers to its location in relation to the Holy Roman Empire in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Austria has often been at the centre of great historical events, during times of war and peace. Throughout the millennia, cultural influences from Celtic people, Romans, Barbarian tribes, Hungarians, Swiss, Italians and Slavic peoples have left their mark, which can be seen in the country's well-preserved architecture, art, music, traditions and scientific knowledge.

9% of Austria's economy is created by tourism, with their revenue making up $18.9 billion (£12.9 billion) of the nation's GDP.

Most Popular Austrian Destinations

The capital, Vienna, is the most-frequented destination in Austria. The city is home to many magnificent buildings, which house religious sites, museums, monasteries, breweries, workshops, mints, armouries and art galleries. Apart from the capital, other popular towns in Austria are Salzburg (the birthplace of Mozart) and Innsbruck (the heart of the Alpine Tirol area). Besides the above, other popular tourist destinations in Austria centre mainly around wine valley culture as well as outdoor recreational activities.

Austria has many mountains, mainly in the Alps, the highest regions in Europe. In fact, the western part of the country is mainly hilly and mountainous, while to the east are the river valleys, farmlands and vast lakes. In winter, the mountains are home to a range of winter sports, while during the summer many mountaineers, climbers and hikers arrive to delve into the trails and caves throughout the mountains. Austria is often considered to be a lot less expensive to travel to and stay at than other Western European Alpine nations such as Germany, Switzerland and France. As such, it is very popular with tourists who are looking to get the most out of a limited budget.

Types of Holidays Available in Austria

Architectural and historical - Austria has many architectural wonders from different periods. The cities and towns are filled with intricately designed buildings from Gothic, Medieval, Renaissance, Neo-Classical, Modern and even Contemporary eras. Austria also has many archaeological sites and ruins that date back as far as the Stone Age. Fortresses, castles, walled cities, churches, mosques, temples and aqueducts dot the landscape, paying tribute to an impressive recorded history of almost 2,000 years. There are many tour operators working throughout Austria offering a range of historical tours that reveal the nation's heritage.

Traditional - Austria is well-known worldwide for its unique traditions, such as yodelling, rustic farming, costumes, dancing, singing and horse shows. The waltz is the Austrian national dance and tourists can see cultural events all over the country year-round where these traditions are preserved. In Vienna, royal horse shows are available at the Imperial Stables. Likewise, romantic horse-drawn carriage rides are offered everywhere in the country and tourists can see museums and churches dedicated to many kings, queens and emperors who ruled Europe and other parts of the world.

Performing arts - Many tourists who visit Austria come to see the various performing arts concerts that are available year-round. The Vienna State Opera is home to the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, which is considered one of the best in the world. Throughout the year, operas and concerts are held at facilities throughout the country. Theatre productions and film-festivals are a regular feature; Austria is also the birthplace of world-famous composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Mahler.

Outdoor activities - Austria is a favourite destination for tourists who wish to pursue outdoor activities. Mountaineering, climbing and hiking are very popular not just in the Alps to the west, but throughout the hill-country, the farmlands and the lake-shores to the east. Outdoor activities are all the more interesting as so much of the country's rich history is preserved; very frequently, tourists find themselves hiking with not just stunning natural backdrops, but Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance castles and palaces towering above the landscape.

Wine country and cultural tours - Throughout Austria, tourists come to enjoy the unique food and wine culture. The Austrian river valleys are home to some of the world's best wines and there are many famous flavours from the regions - Lower Austria, Burgenland, Vienna and Styria. Throughout the cities and the countryside, four- and five-star hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, pubs and grilles are open almost every day until late.

In recent years, Austria has become a world leader in science, economics and technology and is home to many industries. In the future this will bring greater tourism to the country through trade and research. Many of Europe's largest research institutes in a range of fields are found throughout Austria and this brings tourists from all over Europe and the world.