Saturday,  May 28, 2022  10:14 am

Into the heart of Europe: Advantage Austria, Vienna Tourist Board connect with trade in Toronto

Into the heart of Europe: Advantage Austria, Vienna Tourist Board connect with trade in Toronto
Gregor Postl, consul & trade commissioner, Advantage Austria (left); Wolf Paunic, president, Trafalgar Travel (top, right); Armando Mendonça, president, AMPM; Helen Giontsis, president, Kensington Tours (bottom, right). (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

“Vienna and Austria are looking forward to welcoming you in 2022!” said Gregor Postl, Austrian Consul and Trade Commissioner, sharing a message with Canada’s travel trade community.

Both Advantage Austria, the trade promotion organization of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, and the Vienna Tourist Board met with Canadian tour operators, travel agents, and journalists in Toronto recently to provide updates on the destination while reiterating the message that Austria is ready to safely welcome back visitors.

Austria is a well-established tourist destination with a highly-developed tourism infrastructure and attractive products for all types of travellers.

A snapshot of the country’s offering was showcased at a business lunch held on Nov. 25, called #DiscoverAustria, at Toronto’s Bisha Hotel, where guests were invited to “re-discover” and “re-connect” with Austria’s postcard-ready landscapes, museums, arts and culture, architecture and gastronomy.

READ MORE: “We’re seeing demand grow”: Vienna Tourist Board, Kensington Tours update trade in Toronto

Guests at that event were welcomed by Mr. Postl and Trade Relations Officer Christiane Boeck.

Industry partners gather at Toronto's Bisha Hotel on Nov. 25. (Supplied)

And both were joined by Armando Mendonça, president of AMPM, which represents the Vienna Tourist Board in Canada and Brendan Shashoua, head of sales, Canada at Lufthansa Group.

Austrian Ambassador, Sylvia Meier-Kajbic greeted attendees via video message and talked about ReFocus Austria, the country’s largest global outreach programme and a key component of the federal government‘s economic comeback plan after COVID-19.

ReFocus Austria allows world-renowned Austrian partners to present themselves to the Canadian market while positioning Austria as a strong, stable and innovative place to do business in the heart of Europe.

Advantage Austria Trade Relations Officer Christiane Boeck. (Supplied)

“Austria is a small, easily explored country with a high reputation. Whether you are eager to get a dose of culture or culinary delight, put on your hiking boots or race down the slopes, in Austria, you can get it all,” said Mr. Postl and Michael Gigl, regional manager USA, Canada & Australia, in shared remarks. “With its central location and not less than eight neighbouring countries, Austria has always been a melting pot in the heart of Europe.”

Austrian destination partners also contributed to the event (some in person, some via video) to offer the latest updates.

Representing the Vienna Tourist Board in Canada was Mr. Mendonça and Elke Bachner, market manager Canada (via video), who outlined Vienna’s latest tourist offerings.

There were also presentations by Pablo Bolaños, sales director at Vienna Mozart Orchestra; Galina Frolova, key account manager international at Schönbrunn Group; Angelika Czerny, head of tourism at Austrian Gallery Belvedere; Markus Kustatscher, tourism manager, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna; Brendan Shashoua, head of sales Canada, Lufthansa Group; Markus Martinek of SATO Tours; Susanne Hoeller of Graz Tourism; David Zipperle of Swarovski Crystal Worlds; Peter Unsinn of Innsbruck Tourism; and Irmgard Huber of Arlberg Marketing.

With traditional pumpkin soup, wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel, the event gave guests a foretaste of what to expect in Austria in 2022.

Advantage Austria welcomed industry pros at the Bisha Hotel on Nov. 25. (Supplied)

“Austria and Vienna in particular offer many attractions to Canadian tourists,” said Mr. Postl.  “From culture to coffee, from music to museums, from food to festivals.”

“During this challenging time, the Austrian tourist industry has modernized its infrastructure and increased its offers. You will be surprised arriving in Austria and eager to find out the new touristic attractions which are waiting for you.”

“For sure it will be an emotional trip for every tourist and an enjoyable and relaxing time in Austria.”

For more information on Advantage Austria, go to or email Christiane Boeck, operations and trade relations, at

Michael Gigl, regional manager USA, CA & Australia can be reached at

Gabriele Wolf, B2B Communication, product innovation, can be reached at

Reopening from lockdown

Several businesses reopened to the public in Austria on Monday (Dec. 13), one day after the government ended a recent national lockdown to slow the latest surge of COVID-19 infections.

The lockdown was first implemented last month.

READ MORE: “Vienna is alive & visible again”: Talking fall travel with Vienna Tourist Board’s Norbert Kettner

Under the revised rules, unvaccinated people will still be restricted from leaving their homes except for work or essential business, such as grocery shopping or doctors’ visits.

Vienna is home to more than 200 castles and palaces. (Vienna Tourist Board)

As of Sunday (Dec. 12), theatre, museums and some holiday markets were allowed to reopen, although regions have been staggering their reopening plans.

Furthermore, travel to Austria for touristic purposes is possible again for vaccinated and recovered people.

Click here to access Austria’s travel portal, where the latest updates are posted. You can also visit this website for the latest information on Austria's COVID measures. 

All eyes on Vienna

A second luncheon was held by the Vienna Tourist Board on Dec. 7 at the same venue.

Located on the Danube River, Vienna, home to more than 200 castles and palaces, is rooted in its rich history, which is also shaped by iconic figures who once lived there, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and others.

From left: Christiane Boeck, Austria Advantage; Gregor Postl; Advantage Austria Consul & Trade Commissioner; Armando Mendonça, president, AMPM. (Supplied)

Klimt, who is known for his famous painting, “The Kiss,” is being celebrated this year in a new 360-degree digital art exhibit, “Immersive Klimt: Revolution,” which debuted at the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge in October.

The Vienna Tourist Board tied this exhibit into its Dec. 7 event by sharing “Walking with Klimt,” a virtual city walk in Gustav Klimts' footsteps, led by Elisabeth Wolf, managing owner of Artissimi Tours & Travel.

Brad Ford (right) and the Insight Vacations team. (Supplied)

“It was a perfect opportunity to offer the trade a bespoke customized tour,” Mendonça said. 

Wolf, notably, founded Artissimi in 2015 and set out to build a new kind of agency that offers luxury city tours and high-end cultural experiences, which transforms Vienna and its surroundings into an aesthetic, living stage for its most sophisticated guests and cultural locals.

For more info on luxury travel in Vienna, click here

From left: Michael DeGrace, Air Canada; Brendan Shashoua, Lufthansa Group; Jennifer Backus, Air Canada; Gregor Postl, Advantage Austria Consul & Trade Commissioner; Christiane Boeck, Advantage Austria. (Supplied)

The works of Klimt will also be highlighted with special exhibits at The Belvedere Palace as part of its 300th year anniversary in 2023.  

The Vienna Tourist Board also surprised guests with two tickets to the “New Years – Salute to Vienna “concert at Royal Thomson Hall in Toronto courtesy of Attila & Marion Glatz. (For more info on the show, click here). 

Travel pros connect with the Vienna Tourist Board at Toronto's Bisha Hotel on Dec. 7. (Supplied)

Nestor Sumulong of New Wave Travel claimed this prize.

And, two tickets to Immersive Klimt: Revolution, on now until Jan. 16, 2022, were also awarded. They went to Christine James of TL Network Canada.

Stephanie Bishop (centre) and the Globus family of Brands team. (Supplied)

In July, Air Canada restored its Toronto-Vienna service with three weekly frequencies.

Then, in October, Air Canada codeshare partner, Austrian Airlines, resumed direct service to Vienna out of Montreal, also with three weekly flights.

“On behalf of the Vienna Tourist Board and myself, Armando Mendonça – AMPM, we want to thank all the partners, delegates and staff at Bisha Hotel for your support at these memorable events as we bid adieu to 2021,” Mendonça said. 

Here's a video from the event courtesy of the Vienna Tourist Board. 

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