Sunday,  March 24, 2019  7:11 pm

Discover Austria showcase comes to Vancouver

Discover Austria showcase comes to Vancouver
Left to right: Daniel Pasquali, director of sales, global leisure & luxury sales, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Lydia Stiglich, account manager, Lufthansa Group; Antje Fierro, account manager, Lufthansa Group; Pablo Bolanos, Vienna Mozart Orchestra; Helene Perndl, trade relations officer, Austrian Commercial Office Vancouver; Arnulf Gressel, vice consul and deputy trade commissioner, Austrian Consulate General Commercial Section.

“Those poor Salzburg people – they never get to visit Salzburg for the first time in their lives.”

Arnulf Gressel relayed this lament from his grandfather over lunch last week, speaking to travel professionals at the annual Discover Austria B2B tourism showcase in Vancouver.

Gressel, the vice consul and deputy trade commissioner with the Austrian Consulate General Commercial Section, shared that the city most famous as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting of The Sound of Music is even more beautiful than it appears in the famous film, with the castle having undergone major restoration since that time. His grandfather would surely feel even more sorry for those poor Salzburg people now.

While Salzburg is a popular destination for its Sound of Music ties, including the new option of a themed wedding at one of five iconic locations from the film, Vienna remains the most visited city for Canadian tourists. In the first six months of 2016, Vienna welcomed 21,056 Canadian arrivals, who spent 54,802 bed nights in the city, up 3.4 per cent from the same period the year before.

Vienna is celebrating a number of anniversaries in 2017, Gressel noted, including 150 years of the Blue Danube Waltz, 175 years of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 180 years since the birth of Empress Sisi, 265 years of the Schönbrunn Zoo and 120 years of the Giant Ferris Wheel.

Western Canadian representatives for Austrian Airlines were on hand to showcase the airline, which has been recognized three years in a row for its excellent staff. Lydia Stiglich highlighted the airline's food and coffee programs, noting that the in-flight coffee menu includes 10 different coffee styles, “just like in any coffee shop in Vienna.”

“My friend tried them all,” Stiglich said, “and by the time he arrived in Vienna, he was so wired!”

Those who would prefer to avoid the caffeine rush can sleep through the flight in a business-class lie-flat horizontal pod. Agents can offer clients many add-on options through the Austrian Airlines website, Stiglich noted, including flat rate taxi service to and from the airport, train service and the Vienna Card.

Among other tips for agents offered throughout the event: Bookings for the Vienna Philharmonic can be difficult in peak season, but the Vienna Mozart Orchestra concerts, held at the State Opera House, Brahms Hall and the Golden Hall Musikverein, offer convenient booking throughout the summer; Vienna’s Hotel Imperial is a good choice for clients seeking a cultural and historical connection to the city; and the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum in Innsbruck is a great stop for clients “who like sparkle.”