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Austrian tourism sector badly hit by COVID-19 pandemic




Contributing 7.3% to Austrian value added, tourism is an important pillar of the Austrian economy. It has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. We analyze the impact of the crisis using high-frequency real-time data on payment card spending and monthly data on overnight stays. During the lockdown in spring 2020, overnight stays in Austria dropped by almost 100%. Over the summer, tourism activity recovered strongly, backed by domestic and German tourists. Nevertheless, it remained clearly below 2019 levels. In October 2020, the renewed increase in the number of COVID-19 infections led to another severe downturn in Austrian tourism, as several neighboring countries posted travel warnings. On November 2, 2020, a second lockdown started in Austria – accommodation establishments and restaurants were closed. Hence, we expect overnight stays to drop again by around 95% in November. As the Austrian government announced on December 2, 2020, Austrian accommodation establishments will not open before January 2021; on top of that, travel warnings by major countries of origin (especially Germany) will remain in place. Based on these assumptions, we estimate total overnight stays to decrease by 36% in 2020. This will be mainly attributable to a strong decline in overnight stays by foreign tourists (–41%), while overnight stays by domestic tourists will go down by only 23%. The overall decline in overnight stays could have been far stronger if the lockdown in spring 2020 and the recent shutdown had not fallen into the off-season but into the high season in winter or summer.

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  • Gerhard Fenz & Helmut Stix & Klaus Vondra, 2021. "Austrian tourism sector badly hit by COVID-19 pandemic," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q4/20-Q1/, pages 41-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbmp:y:2021:i:q4/20-q1/21:b:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oliver Fritz & Sabine Ehn-Fragner & Peter Laimer & Johanna Ostertag-Sydler & Jürgen Weiß, 2020. "Bericht über die Bedeutung, Entwicklung und Struktur der österreichischen Tourismuswirtschaft im Jahr 2019," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 66095, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Ragacs & Lukas Reiss, 2021. "Austria’s labor market during the COVID-19 crisis," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q2/21, pages 59-78.

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      More about this item


      tourism; COVID-19 pandemic; Austria;
      All these keywords.

      JEL classification:

      • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
      • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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