TORONTO — It’s the gateway to eastern Europe and a cultural gem thanks to its 100+ museums not to mention the famous Spanish Riding School and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. No wonder the city is positioning itself with the slogan ‘Now. Forever’, because once you go, you never want to leave. Vienna Tourist Board and its partners brought a strong contingent to Toronto last night for an industry event that included a performance by mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell.
Vienna’s museums explore the history of everything “from snow globes to schnapps”, says Elka Bachner, Manager, Vienna Tourist Bureau. This charming city has a sense of whimsy as well as history. Meanwhile culture here extends far beyond Vienna’s museum walls: Vienna is also home to 27 palaces and coffee houses galore. “The coffee house is the extended living room for the Viennese people,” says Bachner. There are even vineyards within the city limits.
Speaking of Schonbrunn, here’s an ultimate upsell for honeymooners: The Schonbrunn Grand Suite at Vienna’s famous Schonbrunn Palace. With 167 square metres – that’s about 1,800 square feet – the Grand Suite is a romantic’s dream come true, where guests can “wine and dine like an emperor and bed down like a princess”. There’s certainly room to spare: Schonbrunn Palace has 1,400 rooms and welcomes two million visitors every year.
Partners at last night’s event included Austrian Airlines. Part of the Lufthansa Group since 2009, Austrian flies 30,000 passengers per day within a network that includes six cities in Austria and some 130 cities in 55 countries worldwide, including Canada. Just a few years ago the airline’s North American gateways were limited to New York City and Toronto, said Austrian Airlines’ Sherif Sedhom. Now Austrian Airlines flies out of nine North American gateways. The airline is also expanding in Asia.
Best known for its ‘Flying Chefs’, onboard sommeliers and Vienna Coffee House selections, Austrian is a perennial winner with Skytrax, voted (for the third year in a row) Best Airline Staff in Europe in 2016. Almost 60% of Austrian Airlines passengers are transfers, says Sedhom. The carrier’s minimum connecting time is 30 minutes, one of the lowest in the industry, he adds. The luckiest travellers staying in Vienna will find their way to the opulent Hotel Sacher, also represented at last night’s event.
For all those transfer passengers, Vienna International Airport is the perfect starting point into Eastern Europe, says Ursula Pusch, Manager, Americas for VIE. At a manageable size – some 23.4 million passengers make their way through VIE every year, compared to 44 million at YYZ – Vienna’s gateway still handles more than 70 airlines flying to 186 destinations in 72 countries. VIE is no stranger to Skytrax glory either, winning Best Airport Staff in 2015, 2016 and 2017: “no other airport has ever achieved that”, says Pusch.
Taking a look at passenger data for travellers flying between Toronto and Vienna, Pusch says 87% of those passengers are flying for leisure and 13% for business. The route is slightly skewed to the Canadians; six out of every 10 passengers flying between the two cities are Canadian. Traffic was up 3.6% for the 12-month period between April 2016 to March 2017, compared to the year before.
Just a few hours from Vienna by car – or as fast as two hours and 21 minutes by train – Salzburg is as popular now as it was in 1965 when The Sound of Music came out, and of course long before that. A UNESCO Heritage Site since 1997, “Salzburg is a city of churches”, says Tourism Salzburg’s Klemens Kollenz. It’s also a city of music, with some 4,500 music events every year in a city with a population of just 150,000. Many visitors to Vienna also make a trip to Wattens, where they can tour Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) in Wattens.
See vienna.info for more details.