Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO – While attending a Viennese High Tea Experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto yesterday, members of the media and travel industry partners got a first-hand look at how to make one of Austria’s most popular dishes: Viennese strudel.
The trick? Use a lot of butter and don’t forget the walnuts!
Hosted by the Vienna Tourist Board, Austrian Airlines and Vienna International Airport, High Tea included the added bonus of a strudel cooking demonstration by Gael Moutet, the Executive Pastry Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto. The end result was a deliciously flaky, apple-filled strudel, which Elka Bachner, Market Manager Canada of the Vienna Tourist Board gave two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
Food, of course, plays a huge role in daily life in Vienna, the only city in the world to have lent its name to a particular style of cooking. Viennese cuisine, which draws inspiration from Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Italy and the Balkans, can be enjoyed all over the city, from award-winning, five-star restaurants to the most unpretentious of eateries.
Perhaps the best place to sample local flavours is at a Viennese coffeehouse, which was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011. Vienna is home to approximately 2,400 coffeehouses that range from elegant traditional cafes to simple bistros with standing room only. According to UNESCO’s official report, “the coffeehouses are a place where patrons consume time and space, but only the coffee appears on the bill.”
Aside from its cuisine, Vienna, which Bachner calls a very youthful and artistic city, has plenty to offer the millions of tourists who arrive each year. To see it all, the new Vienna Pass is now available in 24-, 48- and 72-hour options, giving access to over 60 city attractions.
According to the latest numbers, Vienna achieved its best year ever in tourism in 2017, with 15.5 million visitor bednights, an increase of 3.7% over 2016. The city also recorded 7,097,000 arrivals, up 3.1%, and a room occupancy of around 76%.
In an official release, Norbert Kettner, Director of Tourism, said that the Tourist Board will be “concentrating our priorities for the coming years on sustainable and value-adding growth, internationalization and even stronger networking of the tourist players in Vienna.”
Kettner also noted that the city’s residents are considered a “tremendous asset”, and that according to its latest representative study, 96% of Viennese have a positive attitude towards tourism.
In other words, the Viennese are eager and ready to welcome tourists, particularly those from Canada.
According to Ernst Holzer, Senior Manager, The Americas at Vienna International Airport (VIE), arrivals from Canada are up 16% since 2013, with 2017 being a record year (+7%). With up to six flights per week out of Toronto, an average of 276 passengers arrive each day from Canada to Vienna, the majority of whom arrive for leisure (88%). Last year, VIE welcomed a record 24.4 million international passengers in total.
Helping to bring Canadians to the city is Austrian Airlines, part of Lufthansa Group Airlines. Peter Daniel, Senior Manager Sales Products and Programmes for Lufthansa Group Airlines, commended Austrian Airlines for coming a long way since its first commercial flight 60 years ago. With 85 aircraft currently in its fleet and 130 destinations in 55 countries in its network, the airline flew a total 13 million passengers in 2017.
“Austrian Airlines’ slogan is ‘The charming way to fly’, but it’s not just a slogan to us, the staff lives and breathes this slogan,” he said. “In the airline industry, we all have the same seats and offerings, but what differentiates us is our service and staff. It’s not just about the hardware, with Austrian Airlines it’s about the whole experience.”
Daniel also noted that Austrian Airlines’ new myAustrian Premium Economy is now available from Canada. Benefits include seats that recline to an angle of 40 degrees, convenient footrests, adjustable headrests, power sockets, USB ports, additional storage space, 12-inch touchscreen monitors, 350 hours of video and audio entertainment on demand, a welcome drink, three- to four-course meals, a selection of beverages, amenity kits, and two-bag check-in privileges.
The Ritz Carlton, Toronto is offering the ‘Viennese High Tea Experience’ until June 15, 2018, Monday-Friday from 12:00-4:00 p.m. For reservations, call (416) 585-2500. For more information on travel to Vienna, go to https://www.wien.info/en.