Since launching its online destination training programme in 2008 (acts-arabia.com), over 1,100 Middle East travel agents have successfully graduated to become an Austrian Certified Travel Specialist, highlighting the enthusiasm among the trade to learn more about Austria.
Custom-made for the Middle East market, the ACTS programme focuses on Austria’s most popular destinations, general information, top activities and hotels and is of course free of charge for all travel agents.
The training certainly seems to have been paying off. January to August 2012 saw Austria receive more arrivals and overnights from the Middle East than the whole of 2011 which in itself was a record breaking year (+39.3% arrivals and +36.8% overnights).
Every year the Austrian National Tourism Office takes the crème of the crop of its ACTS graduates on a highly-anticipated fam trip to Austria.
2012 was no exception and in October the group of 10 agents, including travel trade from Al Ain, Dubai, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi; were off on a trip covering Innsbruck, the Ötz Valley and Seefeld in Tirol — the fastest growing region in Austria from the Middle Eastern market.
Rather than Austria, the group flew into Munich, Germany which is actually the closest airport to Western Austria and embarked on a fun-packed itinerary of activities popular with the Arabic guest.
The first day was dedicated to Innsbruck. Agents visited the Olympic Ski Jump Tower, Innsbruck’s landmark the Golden Roof, then took a cable car ride from the city centre up to the mountain top in just 20 minutes for a lunch overlooking the city from above.
In the afternoon they took a 20 minute drive out to Mieming, one of Innsbruck’s holiday villages to enjoy some true Tyrolean hospitality at Hotel Schwarz including making their own “Kaiserschmarren”— a famous Austrian sweet dish.
The next day agents paid a visit to the second most visited tourist attraction in Austria, Swarovski Crystal Worlds for a tour and of course plenty of shopping!
With a shuttle bus to take them to Innsbruck’s train station the group opted for a train transfer to the Ötz Valley as trains are a very comfortable and reliable travel around Austria.
In the Ötz Valley, the group enjoyed many natural highlights — the beautiful mountain lake Piburg, the highest waterfall in Tirol, the Stuibenfall and a trip to over 3,000m on one of the glaciers by cable car. Much to everyone’s delight, the group arrived on top of the glacier in the midst of a snow storm!
The most action-packed part of the trip was still to follow, with a visit to AREA 47, the largest outdoor adventure playground in the world, where the boldest in the group went flying on the ‘flying fox’ zip-line.
Then it was off to the final destination, Seefeld. In the midst of this unspoilt natural landscape, agents took a horse drawn carriage through the city centre and its surroundings including the Lake Moserer.
The next day they took off-road segways through the woods and meadows and finally a cable car up to the mountain top to experience the glorious views over the mountain tops of Seefeld.