“Vienna is like walking into a painting,” said Armando Mendonca, president of AMPM, which represents the Vienna Tourist Board in Canada.
Welcoming an exclusive group of 25 travel trade professionals and media at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel, the tourism board debuted its virtual Vienna Showcase series on Monday (Oct 5), putting the spotlight on the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.
The livestream experience unfolded on location from the museum’s Beethoven Moves exhibit, a unique homage to Ludwig van Beethoven, who is considered a grand master of Viennese classical music.
“In addition to Beethoven making Vienna his home, Vienna was a huge international draw for the greatest artists that ever lived, especially in classical music,” Mendonca told PAX at the breakfast event, which was held in the Four Seasons' dbar lounge. “Anyone who loves classical music will love Vienna.”
Beethoven Moves, which is on until Jan. 24th, 2021, combines paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, sketchbooks by J. M. W. Turner, graphic works by Francisco de Goya, Anselm Kiefer and Jorinde Voigt, sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Rebecca Horn and a new work developed for the exhibit by Tino Sehgal, a video by Guido van der Werve and more.
Led on tour by the exhibit’s curator Jasper Sharp, guests on Monday had an opportunity to see, live on screens, just how these works are brought into dialogue with the music and persona of Beethoven, who was born in Bonn, but moved to Vienna when he was 17-years-old to study under Mozart.
(The great composer left the city not long after to be by his mother's deathbed, only to return at age 22).
Vienna was Beethoven’s home for the next 35 years until his death in 1827, and the city was a major focal point, and influence, behind his many famous compositions.
This year, which marks Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, visitors to Vienna – aptly named “The Capital of Music” – can find traces of Beethoven’s life citywide, such as the Beethoven Museum and at other special events.
Celebrating Vienna, globally
Monday’s virtual tour (which included a live Q&A) was broadcasted around the world, in real time, with Toronto being the only city to host an in-person event (the basis of which was bound to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Vienna Showcase will air throughout the year and the focus of each virtual tour will depend on what’s being celebrated in Vienna at the given time, said Mendonca.
The next edition in December, he said, will feature a tour of the reopening of the Sigmund Freud Museum.
“If there’s something to celebrate in Vienna, it will be part of the series,” said Mendonca.
Into the heart of Europe
Vienna, located in eastern Austria on the Danube River, is famous for its Imperial palaces, museums, coffee houses and historic and contemporary architecture.
The city, which has some 850 public parks and gardens, 200 castles and palaces and more than 100 museums, served as a backdrop for many influential artists, such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and many others.
From the world-famous Vienna State Opera House to the magnificent MuseumsQuartier district to its cobblestone roads, Vienna encompasses everything that’s charming.
“This morning’s breakfast was great…It’s terrific to get back to business with actual people in a room,” said Brad Ford, president of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. “I love Vienna. It’s still one of our most popular destinations…It’s a guaranteed wonderful time.”
Despite the downturn in travel due to COVID-19 and Canada’s 14-day quarantine requirements, Ford said there is still a strong demand among consumers to start exploring the world again.
“Everyone wants to travel,” said Ford. “People are waiting for a time where we can create reciprocal travel bubbles and travel with small groups and really enjoy Europe.”
Christian Lassnig, head of Advantage Austria, Austrian Consul and Trade Commissioner, noted the challenges that come with Canada’s current 14-day quarantine order.
“In Europe, travelling is possible with all the precautions and rules that are in place,” he said. [However], as long as trans-Atlantic travel is connected with quarantine – especially when you come back to Canada – that is, of course, an issue.”
Vienna is a bucket list destination for many, said Lassnig.
“As soon as these restrictions are lifted, I am sure Austria and Vienna will be safe places to go,” he said.
While direct lift between Canada and Vienna has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, Mendonca said he expects tourism to rebound in 2021.
“We’ll be back flying to Vienna with Air Canada and Austrian Airlines. We’ll be ready,” he said.
Watch our video from the event below!
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