Vienna Reports Surge in Conventions

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VIENNA, Austria -- This city reported a surge in meetings and conventions business last year, according to officials at the Vienna Convention and Visitors Bureau. And new developments should ensure that the trend continues.

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"Vienna is not only for two hand-holding people in love, enjoying the coffeehouses," said Peter Martin, U.S. marketing manager for the Vienna Convention and Visitor's Bureau. There will be 20,000 cardiology-convention attendees descending upon Vienna this August, convening at the Messe Congress Center. "People think of Vienna as small, comfy and cozy," Martin said, "but this is big, and we can cope with it."

Vienna ranks as the world's second-largest city for association meetings, following Paris and leading London, according to Martin. North America is Vienna's second-largest market for meetings and conventions, following Germany, Martin said.

The Vienna Fairgrounds, which includes the Messe Congress Center, hosted 354 events last year, an 87% increase over 1996, according to the convention and visitor's bureau. The number of attendees visiting the fairgrounds jumped 150% from 1996. Overall, the number of conferences has grown, while the number of attendees per event has declined, the bureau said.

The Hofburg Congress Center Vienna, housed in an imperial castle, will open its Redouten Halls, formerly reserved for government meetings, to private-sector meetings next January, Martin said. The halls include two rooms, with a capacity of about 900 people. The halls will allow lead times of up to 10 months.

This fall, the Austria Convention Center Vienna plans to add exhibit space in a new two-story building. The World Congress of Gastroenterology, which will bring 16,000 attendees to the center in September, will be the first to use the new space.

In December, 6,000 attendees will arrive in Vienna for the closing meeting of the European Union.

For more intimate meetings, the Hotel Sacher added a presidential suite last December that includes a conference room for up to 10 people. The suite also features a study, a salon and a balcony overlooking the Vienna State Opera.

Visitors arriving in Vienna's Ball Season, from January through March, can buy tickets to any of the city's balls, ranging from a casual student dance to a black-tie doctor's ball, Martin said. Tickets for the black-tie-level affairs cost about $100.

For information:
Phone: (212)29-8484.
E-mail: [email protected]

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