Lockdown During the Winter Season Brings Heavy Losses to Austrian Tourism Industry


Recent WIFO Tourism Analysis

The results of the WIFO tourism analysis for the first four months of the winter season 2020-21 show heavy losses. Arrivals declined by 95.1 percent, overnight stays as well as revenues – in nominal and real terms – by 93.5 percent each. For the entire winter season, which ends in April, losses of over 90 percent are expected.

Since the lockdown imposed at the beginning of November 2020 was lifted in the second week of February 2021 only for the retail sector as well as schools, while accommodations are still reserved exclusively for business travellers and spa guests and restaurants are still closed all together, the Austrian tourism industry remains largely out of business.

The outlook for the rest of 2021 remains bleak: compared to last year, during which the tourism industry was already severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, overnight stays may decline further by about 20 percent. 2019 pre-crisis levels of overnight stays will be almost twice the level expected for the current year (rate of decline 49 percent compared to 2019).

As in the previous year, the recovery, expected to start in early summer, should initially be driven by domestic tourism (forecast of overnight stays 2021 –10 percent compared to 2020), while foreign visitor nights may remain about 25 percent below the levels observed last year. Furthermore, city tourism will recuperate much later than tourism in rural and alpine areas in Austria.

This outlook assumes, however, that by July the pandemic will have been curbed by vaccinations and that there will be no further significant flare-up of infections in the fall of 2021. If so, the empirical evidence available indicates that people show great interest to resume travel as soon as possible.



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Oliver Fritz

Research groups: Structural Change and Regional Development
© Charlie Storey/Unsplash
© Charlie Storey/Unsplash