Vienna has long been a popular tourist destination, as any visitor in search of last minute accommodation will bitterly tell you.
But holidays are not the only reason to come and relish the remnants of the Habsburgs’ golden age, and a trained eye will often be able to spot many visitors carrying congress bags instead of back packs.
For the past 12 years, in the beginning of March, these bags have invariably displayed the logo of our own European Congress of Radiology (ECR), but many other professions, medical or otherwise, also choose to meet in Vienna. So many, in fact, that the city has recently topped a chart of the most popular congress destinations in the world… for the sixth time in a row!
With 154 meetings held last year, the former imperial capital is once again leading the dance in the latest city ranking published by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), ahead of Barcelona (148), Paris (147), Berlin (138) and Singapore (136), who completed the top five.
Austria made it to 14th place in the country ranking, with 212 congresses, meaning that Vienna hosted 73% of all congresses held in the country.
Even for a city used to tourism (the number of guest nights climbed to a record high of 1,005,000 in April 2011 according to recent statistics), congresses represent a huge source of income. Last year meetings contributed more than 652 million euros to the Austrian gross domestic product (GDP) and generated a tax yield of more than 182 million euros Austria-wide, with 21.99 million euros for the capital alone.
So what are the reasons behind this success? The museums and monuments echoing the grandeur of the fallen Holy Roman Empire? The city’s geographical location at the heart of Europe? The Viennese expertise in so many professional industries? Experts rather credit “the consistent commitment to quality and excellence” of local hotels and leisure sector’s providers.
This professionalism will continue to pay in the near future, with two additional large-scale congresses held in 2012 and 2013 : the Passenger Terminal EXPO & Conference (18-20 April 2012) with 3,500 expected attendees and the International Congress of the World Psychiatric Association (27-30 October 2013), which should attract 5,000 specialists.
We like to think that radiologists, already forerunners in science, started the trend…