Tourism development in Austria
Tourism is an important factor for the Austrian economy: the industry accounts for more than 8% of the annual GDP and represents one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of Austria’s economy. Not only Austria´s beautiful landscape but also its rich culture attract visitors from Europe and overseas countries every year.
Austria is situated in the south-central region of Europe, covering part of the eastern Alps (accounting for around two-thirds of its surface area) and the Danube basin. It is a mountainous country and one of the natural landscape reserves of Central Europe with a large variety of different landscapes including bathing lakes on a territory of 83.858 sq.km (32.368 sq. miles). Given its location, it has since time immemorial been a crossroads of travel routes between the major European economic and cultural regions.
The first visitors to Austria came in the Middle Ages: there are records of pilgrimages from the 14th century to Austrian places of religious devotion; a pilgrimage to Baden (Coat of arms with people bathing from 1480) and to Badgastein have been documented since the 15th century. Visitors to the salt mine of Dürrnberg and to Hohensalzburg fortress have been documented since the 17th century and at the end of the 18th century several thousand visitors came to see Hohensalzburg. During the Enlightenment leading personalities of European cultural life began to make educational journeys in the Salzkammergut (around 1890). The Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815 marked the beginning of "Congress tourism" in Austria. The Romantic period with its interest in nature gave rise to alpinism (from 1761) and brought the first tourists to the Alps. When the first Alpine associations were founded in the 50s and 60s of the 19th century (the first was the "Alpine Club" in London), tourism in the Alps began to become organised. A Regulation for Mountain Guides was issued in 1871 and the first...