Slump in Austrian tourism shows euro crisis hitting the core nations

Posted on 21 June 2012 with no comments from readers

It should be bumper to bumper cars and foreign voices ringing out in the streets of Zell am See in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol right now but the place is strangely quiet. Even Salzburg is half-empty.

The official statistics for the first half of the summer say it all. According to Statistik Austria UK tourists are down 23 per cent, Dutch by 17 per cent and there are even four per cent less Germans.

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Less tourists

Room nights overall are down 5.2 per cent to 29.3 million and the number of tourists dropped by 3.3 per cent to 8.3 million from May to July.

Why should this be happening? The euro has devalued against the US dollar making Austria cheaper for anybody from a dollar-linked currency.

True you do see more Chinese, particularly large groups of well-heeled, older Chinese who like to keep to their own language and food when travelling. ArabianMoney wonders what the tourist figures would be like without them this summer.

‘No photos!’ said the Chinese tour guide to us as we toured Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg. The Chinese are even taking over in tourism.

But we are amazed to see the financial crisis so very obviously back in the heart of the eurozone. Even three months ago the skiing season in Austria showed little sign of its impact.

For Gulf visitors this is clearly an opportunity to negotiate bargain accommodation, and this might well continue for some time. Does anybody see a quick end to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis?

Apparently the large hotels are less affected. It is the private rental properties that are empty. You can see the ‘zimmer frei’ signs and the empty terraces.

Real crisis hits

Rather sadly we have to note that this marks an intensification of the eurozone crisis. Tourism is big business in Austria and with this sector in a slump how soon before others follow?

What happens to real estate in tourism towns and villages? What about the unemployed waiters or all those people working for the car hire companies.

The latter are a complete rip-off with prices double what you pay in the UK and deserve to go under. Out of a slump will come a more efficient and better value tourist offering in Austria.

Perhaps it has just got a bit too expensive here. Then again people used to pay, so it has to be the impact of the crisis on demand for such discretionary spending. People are saving rather than spending on holidays.