Vienna 2019 meeting statistics
A long-term comparison reveals that 2019 was by no means a typical year for Vienna's meeting industry. The number of events reached a new record high of 5,490, up by 17% on 2018. However, other indicators declined year on year: the number of meeting participants stood at 606,666 (down 4%) and participant overnight stays at 1,581,156 (down 18%); induced economic impact from direct expenditure attributable to meetings was EUR 954.53m, a fall of 20%; and the number of jobs secured by meetings was around 17,300, a decrease of 19%. Although the number of national congresses and domestic and international corporate events grew, Vienna hosted fewer international congresses in 2019 – and the participant numbers and induced economic impact accounted for by the latter are many times higher than those associated with national congresses. Conferences, corporate events and incentives made up 9% of the total of 17.6m overnights reported by Vienna's tourism industry in 2019.
Large-scale congresses, EU Council events and renovation programs the key factors
"Congresses are planned several years in advance, so for some time there had been signs that 2019 would not follow recent trends," explained Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner. The clearest indicator in this respect was the number of major conferences with over 5,000 delegates. Five events of this kind were staged in 2019, which is around half the long-term average. According to Kettner, there were several reasons for this downturn in performance: "The figures for the second half of 2018 were heavily influenced by the large number of international meetings connected with the EU Council – and there was never a chance of replicating this performance in 2019." Christian Woronka, head of the Vienna Tourist Board's Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB), added: "In addition, some of the key players in Vienna's meeting industry made investments in their meeting infrastructure, so they were unable to offer full capacity throughout 2019 due to renovation projects. These included the start of work on the danubeSAIL at the Austria Center Vienna, while the Hilton Vienna – a key venue for international meetings – remodeled its rooms and meeting facilities. We welcome these very important investments in the future which will enhance Vienna's standing as a meeting destination, although they had a short-term impact on the statistics for 2019."
International conferences have strongest impact on overall performance
The 5,490 events held in Vienna in 2019 comprised 1,420 congresses (733 national and 687 international), and 4,070 corporate meetings and incentives (1,929 national and 2,141 international). International congresses decreased by 32% and national congresses by 36%. However, the number of international and domestic corporate meetings and incentives rose, by 15% and 52% respectively. Over the years, international congresses have had the greatest influence on overall performance, and in 2019 many indicators came in below the levels reached in the previous year. Although they accounted for only 13% of all meetings in 2019, international congresses contributed 39% of total participants, 68% of overnights, 74% of induced economic impact and 75% of induced tax income for the City of Vienna. Induced economic impact and tax revenue is calculated according to the Event Model Austria, a constantly updated method developed by corporate advisor and Vienna University of Business and Economics lecturer Martina Stoff-Hochreiner.
Another strong showing by medical events
In 2019 the medical segment accounted for 40% of all overnights generated by congresses in Vienna, making it the single largest contributor in this respect, followed by events focusing on natural sciences with a 15% share. Events in the Economy and politics segment made up 12% of the total, while 6% of overnights were attributable to United Nations events.
2020 overshadowed by COVID-19
"13 major congresses with over 5,000 participants were planned for 2020, so this year's performance would have been on a par with or even stronger than that in 2018. But the severe effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which we still cannot fully predict, have left Vienna's meeting industry facing a totally unprecedented situation," Kettner commented. Several key large-scale events have been postponed, including the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), which has been moved from March to July 15-19, and the Congress of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, which will now take place from July 31 to August 4 instead of in April. Both the Annual Congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) and the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union – scheduled for March and May respectively – and numerous smaller events planned for this year have been cancelled. The Vienna Convention Bureau is in constant contact with organizers at home and abroad, and an overview of the latest schedule for published events is .
Planning under way for reactivation measures after the COVID-19 pandemic
"Thanks to its strong international network, the significant economic impact induced by the meeting industry, and the prominent position of meetings in the city's Visitor Economy Strategy 2025 and the Vienna 2030 – Business and Innovation strategy, Vienna will implement reactivation measures as soon as the COVID-19 crisis has subsided," Kettner pointed out. "Vienna sees itself as a place for international dialog and engagement between different cultures and specialisms – and this will not change in the future. Congresses and corporate events have been hit hard by the current situation, but they will also be a driving force behind the global economic and social recovery. And the launch of a new Meeting Destination Vienna communications concept is just around the corner. In consultation with our partners and customers, the Vienna Convention Bureau is showing tremendous resilience in the present situation and is currently working flat out on Vienna's positioning after the coronavirus crisis," Woronka said.