Vienna Tourist Board Kettner: “See me in the role of spoilsport”

Norbert Kettner does not want to correct the image of the city – “formal – sometimes a bit stiff – and expensive”. What annoys him are “inflated golf carts”

Tourism shouldn’t annoy the population too much, that’s the credo of the promoter of Vienna. A conversation about Fiaker, bachelorette party tourists and apartment buildings where no one lives anymore.

Austria has also lifted entry restrictions since Monday, making 3-G controls at the border history. The start of a good summer?

Norbert Kettner: It’s like a booster for tourism. As soon as travel restrictions are lifted, everyone packs their bags. Worldwide and independent of the travel budget. We have to take every chance we have now, but at the same time we have to be careful that it doesn’t blow our minds later on.

Keyword “overtourism”. How do you intend to prevent too many tourists in too small an area?

Preventing it entirely is impossible. Everyone will never be satisfied. In certain places there is simply not enough space and if, for example, a film shoot is added, it can also get tight. That belongs to the city. But there are a few problem areas that need to be dealt with.

For example?

The short term rental in town. We are not generally opposed to apartments being rented out to tourists, but this can only happen to a certain extent. When entire apartment buildings are rented out to vacationers, it changes the character of the entire district. That will not do. I often see myself in the role of spoilsport. For example, a few years ago, a Segway rental company said that the Vienna Tourist Board should support him and his planned tours of the central cemetery. But there is no public support for this. I say no.

Should only Fiaker and Co. be advertised?

The Fiaker horses belong to the cultural city of Vienna (more on the current debate here). The same can’t be said of those inflated golf carts zipping around downtown with guests. They don’t add value to the cityscape. A city is not a theme park. We must not sell off public space.

But also more than the opera and the riding school, right?

We are positioning ourselves as a congress and culture city, although by the latter I don’t just mean high culture. But we also have to say elegantly that Vienna is not the city of choice if I just want to drink cheap beer and celebrate bachelorette parties.

The city hardly has the problem that Vienna is considered cheap, does it?

It’s correct. We have an image of being very formal – sometimes a little stiff – and expensive. Ten years ago one would have said that we urgently need to correct this image. But why? If the right people feel that way about us, that’s fine.

Speaking of expensive. Fewer low-cost airlines land in Vienna Schwechat. Is that a curse or a blessing?

So the bottom line is that we now have not much fewer flight connections than before the pandemic. That’s good. However, one must not believe that low-cost airlines only bring guests who want to take a cheap vacation. On the contrary. What they save on the flight, they spend in the city. What is currently hitting us hard is the lack of some long-haul flights.

In the meantime, rumored 25,000 employees are missing in the hotel businesses across Austria. What has to happen here?

This is not a problem that only the state can solve. Here the companies have to ask themselves how they get qualified people and how they treat their employees. If the sector wants to be taken as seriously as industry, it must act as an employer like industry.

Specifically?

Create year-round jobs with good conditions. There is also something like social sustainability, which is becoming increasingly important in the competition for employees. In any case, I think it’s the wrong way to always just call for funding.

By Editor

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