2016 Vienna meetings industry statistics - new records across the board

Vienna’s record year for tourism in 2016 is equaled by the city’s meetings industry, which reported top results in all relevant key indicators: the number of events rose 11%, triggering a 2% increase in bednights, which saw induced economic impact advance some 3% to pass the one billion euro mark for the second year in succession.

President of the Vienna Tourist Board and the Vienna City Councilor for Finance, Economic and International Affairs Renate Brauner, Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner and Christian Mutschlechner, Head of the Vienna Convention Bureau presented the results at a press conference hosted by the Vienna Tourist Board on March 22. Guest speaker Josef Eberhardsteiner, Vice Rector for Infrastructure at Vienna’s Technical University (TU Wien), gave an insight into TU Wien as an event location and explained the university’s strategy to expand its international horizons.

ALL-TIME-HIGH: MORE THAN 4,000 MEETINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME

“Congratulations to everyone involved in Vienna’s meetings industry,” Renate Brauner began, “as they have played their part in achieving the best results in Vienna’s history as a meeting destination. Our city hosted 4,084 conferences, corporate events and incentives in 2016 – around 11% more than 2015. With around 567,000 participants during the year, meetings contributed 1,718,000 bednights in 2016, an increase of 2% on the previous year,” she continued.

INDUCED ECONOMIC IMPACT TOPS EUR 1 BILLION IN 2016

“The meetings industry’s contribution to Austrian GDP was no less impressive,” Renate Brauner said. “Compared with 2015, which exceeded the one billion mark for the first time, the contribution of Vienna’s meetings industry to the national economy increased in 2016 by additional 3% to EUR 1.072 billion.” The induced economic impact includes direct expenditure by participants, conference organizers, exhibitors and accompanying persons, as well as income from upstream areas of the economy that is indirectly induced by the meetings (e.g. food and beverage suppliers, printers, construction companies, banks, insurance companies, communications companies etc.).

MEETINGS INDUSTRY SECURES ABOUT 20,000 YEAR-ROUND JOBS

“Vienna’s meetings industry once again proved to be a dependable employer, securing more than 19,700 year-round jobs nationwide.” Brauner noted. “The records set in 2015 were surpassed with gains in all key indicators, with performances mirroring those of the capital’s thriving tourism sector in 2016.”

TAX REVENUE REACHES ALMOST EUR 300 MILLION

Tax revenue from congresses, meetings and incentives in Vienna amounted to EUR 296.59 million in 2016. Of this total, EUR 194.34 million went to the Federal Government, EUR 36.15 million to Vienna and the remainder to the other Federal Provinces and municipalities. Induced economic impact and tax revenue is calculated according to the Event Model Austria, a constantly-updated method developed by the corporate advisor and Vienna University of Business and Economics lecturer Martina Stoff-Hochreiner.

ONE IN EIGHT VISITOR OVERNIGHTS IN VIENNA ATTRIBUTABLE TO MEETINGS

“The importance and volume of meetings and congress tourism for Vienna comes into sharp focus when this segment is compared to the rest of the capital’s tourism industry. Overnight stays generated by meetings, congresses and incentives accounted for 12% of the bednights reported by the Viennese tourism industry in 2016. In other words, one in every eight overnight stays in Vienna is accounted for by meetings,” Kettner confirmed. The 4,084 events held in Vienna in 2016 break down as follows: 1,320 congresses (down 5%), whereof 581 national (down 10%) and 739 international (down 1%), and 2,764 (up 21%) corporate events, meetings and incentives, whereof 1,095 national (up 4%) and 1,669 international (up 34%).

PER-CAPITA EXPENDITURE BY CONGRESS GUESTS TWICE AS HIGH

The figures relating to average spends in Vienna reveal just how important congress participants are for the Viennese economy: “At EUR 538 a day, per-capita spending by these visitor groups is around double the EUR 252 for private visitors,” Norbert Kettner explained.

INTERNATIONAL CONGRESSES DELIVER BIGGEST ECONOMIC IMPACT

Accounting for 40% of all the bednights contributed by scientific congresses, the medical segment contributed the lion’s share in this category, followed by congresses focusing on human disciplines and the natural sciences, both of which had a 12% share. “As in previous years, international congresses continue to have the greatest impact on the overall results. Accounting for just 18% of all meetings in 2016, this segment contributed 51% of all participants, 75% of overnights and 80% of economic impact. It also generated 81% of the tax revenue induced by the meetings industry for the City of Vienna,” Kettner added.

THIRD RUNWAY ESSENTIAL FOR VIENNA’S FUTURE AS A MEETINGS DESTINATION

“I have news for anyone listening to the record numbers being presented here today who thinks they show that Vienna’s status as a congress destination is unassailable,” said Kettner, referring to the heavily criticized court decision regarding a third runway at Vienna International Airport. 76% of all meetings participants in Vienna reach the capital by air and the continued availability of sufficient capacity at the airport is a critical success factor for Vienna as one of the most in-demand congress destinations worldwide. “We are competing in a global market in the meetings sector, and while we are doing well, the competition never sleeps. Meeting planners decide where their meetings will be held several years in advance. And flight links are a core criteria in the decision-making process. In the medium-term there is no alternative to a third runway, if we are continue to build on Vienna’s role as a leading meeting destination. The latest delay in the wake of the recent ruling is highly regrettable. Not only does it fail to deliver improvements on an environmental level, it also brings a competitive disadvantage,” Kettner noted. The Council of Ministers’ decision to halve the air transport levy from 2018 is an important step for Vienna as a meetings destination.

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ORGANIZERS OF ALL SIZES A MAJOR ASSET

“Although congresses – and the international segment in particular – are behind the lion’s share of induced economic impact for the city, corporate events cannot be overlooked. This section plays an important role in terms of generating demand for key infrastructure including hotels, as well as service providers working in the meetings sector,” Kettner explained. “From large-scale meetings with more than 20,000 participants to smaller corporate functions, Vienna caters to a broad range of specifications. Being able to draw on the kind of infrastructure that three major modern convention centers and multiple high-quality smaller venues have at their disposal represents a huge advantage when it comes to advertising Vienna. And our close ties with the university sector is another asset that helps to set Vienna apart on the international stage.” Vienna’s universities accommodate the majority of the small and medium-sized meetings and congresses held in the city.

‘TU UNIVERCITY’: MEETINGS AT THE CITY CAMPUS

Under its long-term TU UniverCity project, Vienna’s Technical University (TU Wien) – located on Karlsplatz for 200 years – has expanded to become a contemporary city campus comprising four city-center locations including the historic original main building. TU Wien also opens up its facilities to organizers of meetings and congresses: 110 lecture halls and 10 main meeting rooms with a capacity for 10,000 people are available to hire for external events. In all, 27 conferences (24 international, 3 national) with a total of 5,500 participants were held at TU Wien in 2016.

INTERNATIONAL FOCUS THANKS TO SCIENTIFIC PERSONNEL

International congresses at TU Wien underpin Vienna’s credentials as a location for science and business, while also helping to raise the profile of the university abroad. TU Wien sees its scientific personnel as a central element of its internationalization strategy: “Young researchers looking to embark upon a scientific career at TU Wien have to have an excellent research record and international experience – e.g. memberships of scientific associations – and are required to bring a scientific event to the city at some point in their first four years. After four years, a special committee looks at whether they have attained the objectives set for them. In this form, this concept is truly unique,” explained TU Vice Rector Eberhardsteiner. “Supporting our young employees is something that we take very seriously and many of them are hosting their first meetings as part of EU projects. Young researchers organize, learn and discuss things differently. We give them the space to try out new ways of transferring knowledge and put their own mark on the way the meetings are held in the spaces provided. We are looking to attain a mix of traditional and avant-garde forms of presentation, which is something we are already achieving with the Young Scientists Stream.” Congresses provide young scientists with a platform for further education and creating networks of their own, while established scientists mainly use them to share expertise.

TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY ENHANCES VIENNA’S CACHET AS A MEETINGS DESTINATION

Ongoing investment in the university and its support systems increase Vienna’s attractiveness as an internationally recognized destination for congresses. “The state-of-the-art infrastructure in a historic environment, high level of professionalism among service suppliers and the rich variety of cultural attractions speak for themselves. Vienna has a reputation as a city where congresses run smoothly and are turned into an experience – and we are proud of the part we play in upholding this reputation,” Eberhardsteiner confirmed.

25-YEAR COMPARISON: VIENNA’S GROWTH AS A CONGRESS DESTINATION

For 25 years the Vienna Convention Bureau has meticulously kept records of the statistics and economic data relating to the city’s meetings industry, making it a pioneer in Europe. “We can call up a quarter of a century’s worth of detailed records that clearly chart Vienna’s development as an international meeting destination. As a resource, this data is unique in the whole of Europe,” explained Mutschlechner. “Since 1991 the number of national and international congresses held in Vienna has risen by 351% from 293 to 1,320. The number of participants has increased more than four-fold from around 90,000 to around 400,000 and the number of bednights generated by them has grown from around 400,000 to 1.4 million – a rise of some 257%. The induced economic impact attributable to congresses is even more impressive. Amounting to around EUR 915 million in 2016, the contribution to GDP by congresses has grown by 611% since 1991. Of this total, EUR 254 million is attributable to tax revenue, which represents an increase of 591%.”

450 MEETINGS INDUSTRY DECISION MAKERS IN VIENNA THIS YEAR

This year alone the Vienna Convention Bureau is set to appear at 62 trade fairs and workshops in 15 countries. In 2017 it will use site inspections for study groups with up to 150 participants to showcase Vienna’s strengths as a destination on the global stage.
Vienna is the first destination in Europe to enter into an agreement with Maritz Global Events allowing it to highlight the capital’s attractiveness as a meeting destination to Maritz account managers at internal events and as part of an education tour that will take in the company’s main offices in Fenton, Philadelphia, Twinsburg and Chicago.
“The Associations World Congress, which brings 300 organizers of international and european congresses to the Austria Center Vienna and the Hofburg from May 2-4, gives us a direct line to a kind of ‘mega study group’ and allows us to reach out to a multitude of decision makers and multipliers in the meetings industry all at once,” Mutschlechner explained.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VIENNA MEETINGS INDUSTRY 2017

  • European Congress of Radiology – ECR (20,000 delegates), 1/3-5/3/17: Austria Center Vienna
  • 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) (11,000 delegates), 22/4-25/4/17: Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center
  • General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union – EGU (12,000 delegates), 23/4-28/4/17: Austria Center Vienna
  • 38th International Vienna Motor Symposium (1,000 delegates), 27/4-28/4/17: Hofburg Vienna
  • European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology Conference – Annual ESTRO Meeting (5,000 delegates), 5/5-9/5/17: Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center
  • 18th EFORT Congress (7,000 delegates), 31/5-2/6/17: Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center
  • Pioneers Festival (2,500 delegates), 1/6-2/6/17: Hofburg Vienna
  • EHRA Europace (7,000 delegates), 18/6-21/6/17: Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center
  • SNACKEX (2,500 delegates), 21/6-22/6/17: Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center
  • 39th Annual International Congress of the European Hernia Society (1,000 delegates), 24/6 -27/6/17: Hofburg Vienna
  • European Congress on Intensive Care Medicine (5,500 delegates), 23/9-27/9/17: Austria Center Vienna
  • 31st Annual Meeting of the European Association for Cardio Thoracic Surgery – EACTS (7,000 delegates), 7/10-11/10/17: Austria Center Vienna
  • 30th Annual Congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine – EANM (6,000 delegates), 21/1-25/10/17: Austria Center Vienna
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