The Vienna Tourist Board and partners were in Toronto yesterday evening to showcase the best that Vienna and Salzburg have to offer at a stylish event held at the downtown Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Vienna Airport, Austrian Airlines, Swarovski Kristallwelten, Salzburg Tourist Office and Sacher Hotels provided an invited audience with some of the best reasons to experience the destinations’ range of cultural and culinary offerings, centred around the Vienna Tourist Board’s new theme of 'Now. Forever.'
With Canadian tourism to the city growing steadily by the year, Elke Bachner, marketing manager, Vienna Tourist Board, told PAX that the time has never been better to plan a visit – particularly for those looking to quench their thirst for culture and music.
Canada, she said, contributes to around 50,000 visitors to Vienna each year, with Toronto and Montreal representing its biggest Canadian markets. The city’s dense cultural heritage is illustrated by a range of exhibitions, scheduled to commence in 2018, which will demonstrate how Vienna was strongly affected by artists, scientists, architects and others in the years around 1900; notable among these is an exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of Otto Wagner’s death, set to begin at the Wien Museum in March next year.
The city is also the scene of a thriving coffeehouse scene whose roots are deeply embedded in Viennese culture. “The coffeehouses are extended living rooms to the Viennese people,” she said.
“The coffeehouses are like a tradition: you meet your friends, you make your business in the coffeehouse, you read the newspaper, you watch the people coming in and going out…”
Little wonder, then, that Viennese coffeehouse culture was officially added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in 2011.
Pianist and composer Adam Sherkin performed during the event.
Salzburg was also in the spotlight for the evening, with Klemens Kollenz, sales and marketing manager, Tourism Salzburg, telling PAX that the city’s proximity to Vienna made it an ideal destination for Canadian travellers.
“It’s very important to be connected to Vienna, in the minds of the Canadian tourism industry,” he said. “You’ve got a brilliant hub into Vienna from Toronto, and connection time between Vienna and Salzburg is two and a half hours, so it’s very easy to combine.”
So what makes Salzburg an appealing destination for the 40,000 Canadian tourists who stay overnight each year?
“Something which everyone knows,” he laughed, “which is The Sound of Music.”
Of course, that’s not all.
“Mozart has his birthplace here; the sights, the cityscape, this UNESCO World Heritage (designation)… that makes it a very interesting place to stop by and spend a night or two. It’s very romantic, especially for couples who want to enjoy [their] honeymoon, or refresh [their] vows after twenty, thirty years.”
While Kollenz said that Salzburg was suitable as a year-round destination, he highlighted summer as an opportune time to experience the city’s blossoming cultural scene. “If you’re a cultural aficionado, you would definitely go in summer,” he said, “because there’s the big summer festival [the Salzburg Festival] which is taking place between the middle of July and the end of August.
“This is the absolute peak season in Salzburg, because this is where the whole world of classical music is looking into Salzburg. A lot of the really well-known celebrities are coming into town.” In fact, preparations are already underway for the 100th anniversary of the festival, scheduled for 2020.
Highlights from other presentations at the event included:
Swarovski Kristallwelten – Nicole Lindner, channel marketing, tourism & sales senior professional lead, highlighted the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, Innsbruck and Vienna, as popular destinations for U.S. and Canadian travellers, and some of Austria’s most visited tourist locations. The parks have recently debuted their new ‘Life is Beautiful’ exhibitions in collaboration with fashion designer Manish Arora.
Austrian Airlines – Sherif Sedhom, account manager, said that despite its small staff size (around 6,000 employees) the airline’s appeal was exemplified by its slogan, ‘the charming way to fly’ – not to mention the fact that it has won three consecutive Skytrax Awards for Best Airline Staff in Europe.
Vienna International Airport was described by Ursula Pusch, manager, the Americas, aviation marketing & business development, as the ‘perfect gateway to eastern Europe.’ The airport, which welcomed 23.4 million passengers in 2016, includes 11.8 million inhabitants in a cachement area that also covers Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Sacher Hotels – Peter Zwickl, director of sales, noted that its Vienna property represented the city’s only privately-owned, family-operated luxury hotel. Its ethos, he said, is best described as ‘trenditional’ – combining modern trends with more traditional sensibilities.
The evening concluded with a musical performance by composer and pianist Adam Sherkin, accompanied by mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell.