With a plethora of one-of-a-kind experiences to entice visitors, Central Europe has its eyes set on the MENA market. Panayiotis Markides discovers how the region is targeting this unique market.
Year-on-year, travellers descend upon the heart of Europe eager to make use of the plethora of wellness options, the milder climate and the natural beauty that comes with a visit to its various destinations.
Honing in on Austria, general manager, Grandhotel Lienz, Johannes Westreicher explained to TTG that the five-star property knows just how to accommodate its clientele.
“Since sport and health are very important, our bicycle tracks have been expanded to 300km along the River Isel, which is the only natural glacier river still in Austria.”
Meanwhile in Vienna, according to Vienna Tourism Board’s tourism strategy released in 2015, the city aims to increase the number of overnight stays by five million, the room revenue is to be stepped up by $454 million, and direct flights to Vienna are to be offered by another 20 cities worldwide.
With developments across the region, TTG spoke with various stakeholders to discover how Central Europe is planning to up its visitor figures.
EYE ON THE PRIZE
Being well-established within continental Europe, Central Europe’s tourism entities are looking further afield to augment their market share, with the strategy having paid off.
Market manager – China, Japan, South Korea, Arab countries, Vienna Tourism, Elisabeth Sissi Woschnagg informed TTG: “Our main feeder markets in 2015 were Germany, Austria and the US.”
Combining visitor statistics from all the Arab nations to Vienna, Woschnagg told TTG that the region provided 411,000 overnights from 184,000 arrivals, making the region Vienna’s eighth ranked source market after Switzerland and ahead of Russia.
She revealed that with positive numbers such as this, the destination is promoting itself within the MENA region in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. In addition, the destination also hosts an Arabic website to promote itself to the market.
“Tourists from this region have become particularly important during the summer months. With 131,581 overnights during the month of August in 2015, all Arab markets rank third just after our major source markets, Germany and Austria.”
In Slovakia, connections with the MENA market have been bolstered with the recent three-times weekly Turkish Airlines flights between its Eastern city of Košice and Istanbul.
The sentiment for attracting the MENA traveler was echoed across the board as director of sales and marketing, Eden Group, Markéta Azemovicová noted: “Our main market is the CIS market and we are working on attracting the MENA market to our destination. It is a new market for us.”
Westreicher commented that Grandhotel Lienz’s main markets are Austria, Germany, the UAE and the US. He enthused: “It would be great to build up the MENA market since what we offer is unique and we have a lot of repeat guests due to our personalised service, as we are a family operation and attend to every request from our guests personally.”
Director of sales and marketing, The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, Stefan Ludwig told TTG: “We recognise an increase of five per cent in demand year-on-year from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.”
He noted that the property’s main feeder markets are the US, the UK and Germany, while Asia and the Middle East are the hotel’s main emerging markets.
Regional director, Vienna House Czech Republic, Klaus Pilz remarked to TTG that the MENA market is a target for the company: “We definitely need to attract the MENA market as well. We have local sales representatives there followed by our own sales managers because we know how crucial personal contact is in those countries.”
In an industry forever in flux, a multitude of trends affect what travellers seek in any destination they may visit.
Azemovicová remarked that in Carlsbad there is a constant and growing demand on health improvement. “Therefore among other things we focus on health food and we came up with a new concept of meals in the Carlsbad Plaza.”
She also informed TTG about what the Czech hospitality group is doing to keep its tourism product updated: “We are offering a new concept of treatment in our Medical Spa Suites. These are treatment rooms, which provide an entire new view on relaxation during medical treatments. We are the only hotel in the Czech Republic, which offers these types of facilities and services.”
BOOSTING WELLNESS OFFERING
While Central Europe’s wellness offering may be firmly established, it still continues to enhance its product with the addition of new properties from major hospitality player, Carlson Rezidor. The company recently announced the upper-upscale Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Szklarska Poreba, set to open in late 2018, in south west Poland, which will be a ski and summer resort featuring 180 rooms.
The hotel group also announced the 166-key midscale Park Inn by Radisson Poznán, also in Poland, expected to open in Q2 of 2017.
Meanwhile in Hungary, luxury options are in no short supply as The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest recently opened its doors to visitors in the city’s cultural and shopping district. The hotel boasts 170 rooms and 30 suites.
With no shortage of experience in catering to the most discerning of travellers visiting Central Europe, stakeholders are actively