Fireside chat: cycle tourism in Austria – quo vadis?

The role of tourism as an economic factor is to be strengthened further in Austria. Of course the bicycle is part of this strategy as it is one of the most important leisure sports devices. This has now been noted by the federal ministry for sustainability and tourism (BMNT) in its so-called “Plan T – Masterplan for Tourism”. In it, an additional 800.000 Euros is earmarked for “digitalisation and cycling campaigns”.
The mentioned cycling campaign by Austria Tourism was started in March together with the regional tourism associations in the provinces and it is titled “Cycling Country Austria”.

The ministry’s Plan T

In the “Plan T” sustainability is set down as a basic principle for tourism in Austria for the first time. “It is not primarily about tourism destinations fulfilling our guests’ demands but about quality living spaces in which guests and citizens are equally comfortable – be it in the city or in the countryside,” notes Elisabeth Köstinger, federal minister for environmental protection and tourism.

The “Cycling Country Austria” campaign is to serve “as a prototype for future cooperation projects”, says the ministry. Those will be discussed in further stakeholder meetings over the next months. The campaign is scheduled to cover a three-year period. In the first year it focuses on mountainbikes and “pleasure bikes”. Pedelecs and e-mountainbikes are playing a very special part in this. They are already part of the standard facilities at modern hotels which are keeping their fleets up-to-date via providers like Cycle Competence member Kaloveo. At the mountainbike congress 2018 the vision of 20% market share for the segment of e-mountainbikes in Austrian summer tourism was presented as a target. The Salzburger Land region already has a 10% market share of mountainbike tourism and individual regions like Saalback-Hinterglemm already crossed that threshold.

Cycle tourism as economic factor

In total, cycle traffic in Austria is generating added value of €882.5m. This was calculated for the brief study „Wirtschaftsfaktor Radfahren“for the BMNT already a decade ago. The sector thus created 18.328 jobs in full-time equivalents. The largest share was made up of the cycle tourism sector with €317m or around 53% of the total directly created added value. According to the the cycle travel analysis Germany for 2016 Austria is in second place among the favourite destinations for German cycle tourists:

Cycle holidays and cycling tours have been in demand for several years. Their significance is increasing both as part of a gentle active mobility tourism campaign as well as part of the focus on an all-year adventure sport. In the classic cycle travel sector Austria is offering the European pioneer, the Danube cycle path, as figurehead, as well as two five-star cycle paths according to the classification by the German cycling federation ADFC. The 228km cycle path along the river Drau in Carinthia and the Lake Neusiedl. This is the only “RadReiseRegion” identified in Austria by the ADFC. It has 40 cycle paths and covers more than 1.000km. Cycle Competence member Verracon is coordinating an international network of destinations along the Danube which is dedicated to sustainable mobility. As part of the project “Transdanube Pearls” among other things guidelines for the topics cycling and public transport as well as for bicycle renting systems were compiled.

According to the BMNT the total network of cycling routes in Austria covers 14,000km, including four EuroVelo routes through Austria. These are coordinated by Radkompetenz-member Radlobby Österreich.

Posted on April 29, 2019