Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB) is granting support for congresses hosted by associations all year long. The city is ready to promote physical meetings and bolster news solutions for industry partners.
Even when COVID-19 was making its first appearances, several destinations around the world already feared what could happen next. For Vienna, the second-largest German-speaking city in the world and home to several international organisations, suspending its MICE activity was no easy task. In times that seem distant, Vienna's meeting industry generated an added value of approximately €1 billion and about 10% of the total number of overnight stays. Ranking both number 1 in quality of life by Mercer in 2019 and in the Smart City Index 2019, the “city of music and dreams”, yet saw its Visitor Economy Strategy 2025 curbed. “Due to the cancellation of events, we are currently losing a monthly added value of about €80 million and about €22 million in tax revenues. Vienna's hotel industry is losing about 120,000 overnight stays per month,” the director of Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB), Christian Woronka, tells us.
Together with the Vienna Tourist Board, Vienna’s Economic Chamber created the Safe Stay Label to support accommodation providers in upholding stringent safety and quality standards. “Anyone planning an event in Vienna in 2021 and 2022 will have government protection,” Woronka explains. “Under the approved €300 million protective shield, the Austrian government will cover financial damage resulting from events being cancelled or restricted due to COVID-19.” Applications can already be submitted via the Austrian Hotel and Tourism Bank until the 15th of June.
Organisers from abroad can also apply for grants to hold an event in Austria. “Further crucial support to the industry includes a €15 million hotel funding initiative granted by the City of Vienna through the Vienna Business Agency,” adds Woronka. “Our teams, in close cooperation with our local industry partners, have successfully continued their event acquisition activity for 2022 onwards.”
VCB’s mission is to provide customers and partners with all the necessary information, in addition to strive for an even closer networking between science and the business sector. One of the latest achievements was the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioeconomy 2021, attracting industry leaders and policy experts to discuss opportunities and challenges for transformative technologies. “Exciting technologies are being developed and implemented in Vienna that help to connect the physical and virtual space.”
In the meantime, the city is renewing itself with the construction of a new event building (Ariana), the reopening of Hilton Vienna Park (Austria’s biggest congress hotel) and a modern broadcast studio and Wi-Fi 6 at Messe Wien. “During the hardest time of the crisis Vienna’s event centres had taken over an extremely crucial role – they provided much needed space for public COVID-19 mass testing and alternative hospitalisation,” concludes Woronka. For travelling environmentally friendly, the Visitor Economy Strategy 2025 requires a dedicated focus on green issues, including a growing number of eco-certified local businesses and ambitious targets.
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