Vienna's Luxury Shops Struggle with the Loss of Russian Tourists

Lifestyle & TravelLuxury Goods ♦ Published: August 15, 2022; 19:31 ♦ (Vindobona)

During the past two decades, Russian tourists with purchasing power have enriched the city centre's luxury shops, but since the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine, hardly anyone visits the Austrian capital. According to the latest statistics, fewer than one percent of tourists staying overnight in Vienna are Russians. Due to the loss of purchasing power, the tourism industry in Vienna suffers greatly.

Many of the shops are located in Vienna's city centre. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Gryffindor / CC BY-SA 2.5

Vienna has always benefited from Russian tourists with purchasing power, who livened up the luxury shops in the city centre. However, since the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine, hardly any Russians come to the Austrian capital.

The latest figures show that less than one per cent of tourists staying overnight in Vienna are Russian. The loss hurts Vienna's tourism industry a lot because of the lost purchasing power.

"In terms of numbers, it is possible to compensate for the absence of this group, but a lot of purchasing power is lost," says Rainer Trefelik, chairman of the WKO regional branch to the ORF. Especially in the luxury goods sector, the mostly wealthy Russians are sorely missed. Many companies have profited enormously from them.

The statistics of arriving tourists in the month of June show that Russians play only a very minor role in the Viennese tourism market. With total arrivals of more than 533,000 tourists, of which more than 143,000 are from their own country, Russian tourists can only register 2000 arrivals - less than 2% of foreign tourists. The situation is similar for overnight stays.

With about 6,000 overnight stays, Russians in Austria only account for less than 1% of the total overnight stays in Vienna.
Many of the Russians were regular customers in the local luxury shops and provided a lot of turnover. Long-standing customer relationships have been lost, Trefelik pointed out.

Not to be neglected is the loss of Ukrainian customers, who have also declined in recent months. In the long term, it would be extremely difficult to bring back these lost customers, the ORF quoted Trefelik as saying.

According to estimates by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Russian tourists spent around 60 million euros a year at commercial establishments in the federal capital. With more than 700,000 overnight stays, Russians were not only the fastest-growing but also the third most important holidaymaker group in Vienna in 2013 - after Germans and Austrians.

But that was several years ago. Since 2014 - with the annexation of Crimea and the sanctions imposed by the EU - the number of Russian guests has been steadily declining, as Walter Straßer from Vienna Tourism tells ORF.

"The share of Russian overnight stays has now slipped below one per cent. But even before the current Ukraine crisis and also before Corona, i.e. in 2019, the share of Russian overnight stays was just under two and a half per cent of total Vienna tourism," Straßer says. Vienna Tourism has therefore no longer set marketing priorities in Russia.

Nevertheless, the decline in Russian tourists was not a problem for the Viennese economy, Straßer said, as the development had been foreseeable and businesses had been able to adjust accordingly. "Most recently, in the first half of 2022, Vienna recorded just 30,000 overnight stays from Russia.

WienTourismus - Wiener Tourismusverband - Vienna Tourist Board

WKO Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce