Austria’s conference and congress industry has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions on international visitors. Yet, despite these challenges, 2020 saw Tirol maintain its position behind Vienna as the second-most-popular location in Austria for congresses and conferences.
The recently published Meetings Industry Report Austria underlines just how tough 2020 was for the industry. The absence of international guests and restrictions on events caused a huge reduction in conferences and congresses throughout Austria.
Tirol nevertheless succeeded in preserving its status as one of the most in-demand congress locations in the Alps. The region was second only to Vienna when it comes to the number of international congresses held in 2020. With a share of 17.8%, it also ranked second in the number of overnight stays resulting from conferences and congresses – again, second only to Vienna. More than 50% of registered events in Tirol took place in Innsbruck.
“The pandemic was a good opportunity for the industry to reflect,” explains Veronika Schumann, head of the Convention Bureau Tirol (CBT). “Despite all the digital options available today, there is still a strong demand for face-to-face meetings and the emotions that go with that.” Many of the events held in Tirol are organised by Austrian companies: 69,3% of all registered events in Tirol were held or organised by businesses based in Austria.
More potential for green events
Despite this relative success, there is no denying that 2020 was a hugely challenging year for the tourism sector as a whole and the conference industry in particular. The number of congresses, meetings and seminars taking place across Austria fell by two-thirds compared with 2019 – and by 71.9% in Tirol. This can be broken down into 62.4% fewer events held by Austrian organisers and around 80% fewer events held by international organisers. This was also reflected in major declines in the number of people coming to Tirol for events of this kind (-63.2%) and the number of overnight stays resulting from congresses, meetings and seminars (-78.8%). While these developments had a particularly stark impact on towns and cities, they also filtered through to related industries such as hotels, caterers, stage-building companies and security companies.
The autumn months of September and October remain the most popular months for events. Most of the conferences and congresses focus on economics and politics (52%), followed by human medicine (12%) and the humanities (12%).
“Companies and organisations planning on holding an event in Austria now have the added security of the €300 million scheme introduced by the government to mitigate any financial losses resulting from Coronavirus measures,” explains Veronika Schumann. The head of the Convention Bureau Tirol still believes there is more potential in the region when it comes to green meetings, especially in view of the current focus on environmental sustainability. Her team helps organisers certify their events according to strict environmental and social criteria.
For more information on events in Tirol, please contact the Convention Bureau Tirol: www.convention.tirol