Friday,  January 27, 2023  9:48 pm

Advantage Austria puts on a show at Eglinton Grand


Advantage Austria puts on a show at Eglinton Grand
Birgitta Samavarchian, trade relations officer, Advantage Austria; Simone Dulies, general manager, Hotel Bristol Vienna.

The Eglinton Grand provided the setting for the Discover Austria 2018 Gala Evening earlier this week (Jan. 30), as a host of Austrian companies provided the travel trade with an in-depth look at what the country has to offer through a trade show and dinner.

The Toronto event marked the gala’s second stop this week in Canada, with Montreal and Vancouver shows also on the agenda. Birgitta Samavarchian, trade relations officer, Advantage Austria, told PAX that the series of events was aimed not only at increasing the number of Canadian visitors to Austria, but also showcasing a side of the country beyond its most renowned destinations.

“We have about 100,000 Canadians staying in Austria a year,” she commented. “They mostly stay in Vienna, Salzburg, and then Innsbruck. They spend on average 2-3 days in Austria; we’re trying to prolong that [by] showing them the beautiful offers that we have here.”

This year’s show welcomed more participants than ever, Samavarchian said, with representatives from nine companies networking with agents at the pre-dinner trade show before taking to the stage to deliver presentations throughout the evening. On hand to give the opening address was Christian Lassnig, Austrian consul and trade commissioner.

Austrian Airlines updates

Austrian Airlines, which services Austria from Canada through direct flights between Toronto and Vienna, was represented by Sherif Sedhom, who announced that the company has expanded its global network to include 18 new long-haul destinations – six of which are in North America.

The airline recently clinched the ‘Best Airline Staff Service in Europe’ gong in the SkyTrax Awards for the fourth consecutive year; further good news, Sedhom said, is arriving in its new Premium Economy seat class, set to be introduced to the Canadian market and all long-haul flights. For Canadian travellers, the product will be available as of March 6, debuting on its YYZ-VIE service.

What’s happening in Vienna

Vienna Tourism’s Anulf Gressel, vice consul and deputy trade commissioner, described the Austrian capital as ‘a perfect European city of the 21st century.’ Mercer has named the city the world’s most livable city for eight consecutive years, he said, with green space comprising more than 50 per cent of its urban area and movement around the city facilitated by a safe, efficient public transport system. The Vienna City Card, he noted, offered a strong option for travel professionals to sell and promote, with commission available.

Another of the city’s main attractions is Hotel Bristol Vienna, the conveniently-located property that was showcased by its general manager, Simone Dulies. Particularly recommended, she said, are the hotel’s Opera Suites, offering excellent views of the Vienna State Opera. With the Twin City Liner catamaran, meanwhile, travellers can enjoy easy access to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.

Beyond the capital

David Szelenyi, general manager, Schloss Leopoldskron.

Outside Vienna, there’s much to offer in Salzburg and Innsbruck – the former of which was described by David Szelenyi of the Schloss Leopoldskron palace as ‘an amazing city that offers everything from gastronomy to culture to a range of activities.’ Particularly notable is its Salzburg music festival throughout the summer, during which the city of 150,000 residents is transformed into a cultural metropolis.

Innsbruck, meanwhile, is renowned for its ski resorts. “What makes it so unique,” commented Christoph Plank of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, “is a combination of alpine flair, city lifestyle, and cultural heritage.” The city hosts a snowboarding contest every February, attracting thousands of people, with a cable car located 20 minutes from the city centre offering a quick trip to the mountains.

Wilma Himmelfreundpointner, director of marketing and sales, St. Anton tourism board.

The Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) in Wattens also remains popular among North American travellers, with the crystal and jewellery museum having recently opened a new ‘Life is Beautiful’ exhibition.

Another winter sports hotspot is Arlberg, represented by St. Anton tourism board’s Director of Marketing and Sales Wilma Himmelfreundpointner, who highlighted its high-quality ski resorts and distinctive rugged terrain. It’s located in the west of the country, a few hours’ drive from Innsbruck.

The night was punctuated with authentic Austrian culture throughout, with Brian Torner and Keren Brown’s dance followed by an operetta display from soprano Ursula Ivonoffsky to conclude proceedings.

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