Salzburg wants less mass tourism and longer stays
The tourism model of the city of Mozart is to be updated. The ÖVP (Austria Peoples Party) wants to restrict souvenir stores, redirect traffic – and backs an SPÖ ( Social Democratic Party) demand.
The masses of tourists push their way through the famous Getreidegasse shopping street, buses spit out entire tour groups in Paris-Lodron-Strasse near Mirabellplatz and at Unipark Nonntal, plus day-trippers sit in their cars in traffic jams heading toward the city centre. It’s high season in the city of Salzburg, and the number of tourists is almost approaching the pre-Corona year of 2019 again – the year in which the people of Salzburg already had enough. Tourists and tour guides were insulted on the open street.
The province of Salzburg celebrates the best July ever and announces 3.68 million overnight stays nationwide. The summer season to date between May and July has also broken all records with 530,000 more overnight stays than in the previous year (6.58 million). What pleases tourism experts is increasingly causing unease and annoyance among locals.
No strategy for quality
The city’s head of tourism, Christine Schönhuber, found clear words in an interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper and named the problem: “There is still no strategy for quality tourism.” This would first have to be worked out in order to get mass tourism under control.
The statement did not go down well with the city’s ÖVP, (Austria Peoples Party) which has to beat the municipal council and mayoral elections in the spring, and at the same time triggered an unusual flurry of activity. Mayor Harald Preuner (ÖVP), who is also responsible for tourism, hastily called a press conference. So, announced on Thursday was the continuation of the tourism mission statement 2025 with adjustments. It needs clarifications after the “reports, which could lead to irritations in the population and among tour operators”, Preuner paraphrased his displeasure.
Preuner, who will not be running in the upcoming election, had also put his successor as city party leader and ÖVP mayoral candidate, Florian Kreibich, on the podium. As an industry expert, he is to be an interface between tourism and politics and work on the new mission statement. For Preuner, this is only logical, as the ÖVP will claim the tourism portfolio again after the election.
Neutorsperre and Messbahn – The city S- railway
Mr Kreibich made people sit up and take notice with proposals that had previously been a no-go for the ÖVP. The lawyer and operator of the Gersbergalm Romantic Hotel on the Gaisberg can imagine closing the Neutor area to car traffic – even if he does not think much of quick fixes and is considering a closure only after the completion of the construction site for the extension of the Festspielhaus, during which the passage will not be possible anyway. For the old town, Kreibich can also imagine restrictions on souvenir stores like in Amsterdam or Dubrovnik.
As another solution, Kreibich presented a demand of the SPÖ from the last election campaign: the Messbahn or the “S-Link Express”, city railway. The idea originated with SPÖ mayoral candidate Bernhard Auinger and is now apparently also popular with the ÖVP. Kreibich wants the Messbahn to be tackled at the same time as the construction of the S-Link, and wants to hold talks on this with Transport Provincial Councillor Stefan Schnöll (ÖVP). The 3,000 parking spaces at the trade fair center would allow day-trippers to park their cars and quickly reach the city by train. After all, two-thirds of day-trippers arrive by private car. “If the guests can get to the city quickly, I am confident that we will be able to stop congestion tourism and coaches,” says Kreibich.
Daytime traffic jams and bus slots
Especially on rainy days, vacationers from the surrounding communities jam into the city centre. On the Maxglaner Hauptstraße, the access road to the Mönchsberg garage, ( Actually in the mountain) traffic regularly collapses as a result. Although the existing park-and-ride facilities at the trade fair site could absorb drivers on the outskirts of the city, they are little used. This is because the parking space at the trade fair center, including a trolleybus ticket to the city, is more expensive than a parking ticket for the Mönchsberg garage. And so the day visitors drive as far as possible into the city centre, even if the parking spaces there are already at full capacity on some rainy days.
Currently, Salzburg is only at 50 percent of the numbers ahead of Corona when it comes to coaches, but tightening is still to come here as well. “We are considering making the bus terminal at Mirabellplatz available only for overnight guests,” Preuner said. In addition, the fee for the buses is to be raised from 70 to 80 euros. The Green Citizens’ List demands the dissolution of the bus terminal in Paris-Lodron-Strasse.
Mission statement from the Corona crisis
“It makes little sense to address new groups of guests,” the city chief emphasized. And tourism boss Schönhuber also wants to move away from marketing and towards tourism management. Preuner formulated very clearly which tourists he prefers: “We only want to have those in here who stay overnight.” The number of day-trippers, who are only in town for a few hours and don’t consume anything, should be reduced. But there are still no figures on how many that is. With a current bed occupancy rate of 50 to 60 percent, however, Kreibich does not yet see the slightest “overtourism.” Salzburg needs every percent more occupancy in overnight stays. On average, a guest stays in Salzburg for 1.77 days – a slight increase compared to 1.71 days in 2019.. (Stefanie Ruep, 8/29/2023)
Source: Der Standard -translated from the German