Is Vienna the new favourite among Indians?

  • IANS, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2015 18:48 IST

There has been a marked increase in Indians visiting Vienna and a senior Austrian official hoped to "increase it to 100,000 overnights by 2017".

"Since 2010, the number of nights spent by Indians in Vienna grew at around 18.5% to 65,000 overnights in 2014," said Vienna Tourism Board (VTB) Deputy Director, Isabella Rauter, who is currently on her maiden trip to India.

Rauter told IANS in an interview: "We hope to increase it to 100,000 overnights by 2017. The maximum number of Indian tourists hail from New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai."

As the winter chill melts into spring, the beautiful Austrian capital of Vienna is all set to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of its historic boulevard - the Ring Road, considered a jewel among streets in the world, and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 2001, on the banks of river Danube.

Rauter said now the Schonbrunn Palace and the Giant Ferris Wheel have been opened as wedding destinations for Indians and efforts are underway to attract Bollywood for movie shootings.

The 5.3-km Vienna Ring Road, or Wiener Ringstrasse, is globally renowned for its architectural monuments and urban planning since its inauguration May 1, 1865 by Austrian Emperor Kaiser Franz Joseph.

Built over five decades, the Ringstrasse is a vast treasure trove of architectural details, imposing buildings, sculptures and decorations on mansion faces, designs of entrances and stairwells and greenery.

"Once an elegant promenade for aristocracy, it is now an acclaimed urban planning project with magnificent buildings, palaces and parks coming up in its vicinity, at which tourists from all over the world marvel," Rauter told IANS.

The Ringstrasse boulevard earned the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2001, after its Schonbrunn Palace and the palace gardens, complementing the charms of the over 800 buildings built in Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic styles.

Now, Austria is preparing a vibrant celebration for the Ringstrasse's Sesquicentennial with a slew of year-long activities in arts, culture, night-life, cuisine, sight-seeing, good living, sports and leisure, besides attracting more Indians to join the festivities, smiles Rauter.

The VTB is luring more cities with strategic tie-ups with major tour operators, targeting youth, honeymooners and families, she added.

An important inaugural exhibition in March will showcase the constructions in Vienna during the Nazi regime, when the city was considered as the 'Pearl of The Reich'.

Jewish entrepreneurs and bankers who contributed handsomely to the economic upswing of the 19th century, lived and worked around the Ringstrasse, will have a dedicated expo next month onwards, she added.

The Wien Museum Karlsplatz will host an exhibition tracing the boulevard's birth to its formal opening, showcasing rare blueprints, designs, models, photographs of that era.

For the sight-seeing buffs, Vienna offers over 100 art museums, the legendary composer Beethoven's home and grave, Mozart's grave, imposing churches like St. Stephen's Cathedral, parliament house modelled like a Greek temple, Vienna State Opera, hailed as the world's music capital, National Theatre with magnificent ceiling paintings, and Museum of Natural History, the world's largest.

"People can spend time in the 850 parks, 280 imperial parks and gardens dotting the landscape, making Vienna one of the greenest cities in the world, 400 species of roses bloom only in the Volksgarten (garden), day trips to the woods, Lobau and kids recreational areas. It is the only metro in the world with around 1,700 acres of vineyards and wine cellars," Rauter said.

Around the year, Vienna hosts over 450 balls, starting with New Year's eve ball in the Imperial Palace or the Opera Ball at the Vienna State Opera and the Carnival in January-February, besides discotheques for more adventurous.

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