Cultural tourism plays an important role for Austria as a tourist destination and is therefore also treated as a topical issue in tourism policy, both by the Ministry responsible and by the Austrian National Tourist Office. Apart from cultural heritage (especially in an urban context), festivals and other cultural offers are also of great importance. Cultural tourism is no longer limited to cities alone; more than 15 000 theatre and concert performances as well as more than 2 500 events as part of festivals take place on a regional level in Austria. Since the culture-loving public is well educated and has above-average purchasing power, the destinations and venues benefit from the added value generated and the jobs needed.
Data from 2017 indicate that for around 2.5 million holidaymakers culture is the main motive for a holiday in Austria. Visitors’ cultural interests have changed in parallel with the social concept of culture, which is much broader today than previously. Whereas offerings that could be categorised as ‘high culture’ and ‘classical’ predominated in earlier decades, today there is a wide variety, ranging from subculture and everyday culture to the avant-garde and experimental.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both areas – tourism and culture – are highly endangered in their (economic) future.