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Austria Center Vienna’s most successful year despite Brexit challenge

Austria’s largest congress centre, Austria Center Vienna, has revealed 2018 was its most financially successful year in its 30-year history.

Through space hire in the centre and income from events in the congress segments, the Austria Center Vienna generated EUR14.85 million (£13m) and welcomed 136,000 international delegates, representing a 29 per cent year-on-year increase in visitor numbers.

“Never before have we had so many international congresses with so many participants here at the venue,” managing director and management board spokeswoman, Susanne Baumann-Sollner said.

Despite reporting a record-breaking year, the venue faced what it described as a “special challenge” when Brexit caused the EU Council presidency – held in Austria last year – to be brought forward by half a year. This caused clashes with other major events taking place at the Austria Center Vienna.

“Organisers usually book international congresses at our venue five to seven years in advance. This relatively short notice change in the EU Council presidency timetable required a number of alterations to the scheduling and location of existing bookings,” said Baumann-Sollner.

Thanks to the physical separation of the spaces and adoption of a conjoined security concept, it was possible to host numerous events while the EU Council event took place.

The record-breaking year for the Austria Center Vienna has also fuelled an economic boost for the Austrian capital, with an estimated EUR188m (£166m) being generated through international delegates.

According to the Austria Center Vienna, typical congress attendees spend double what the average visitor to Vienna does, at a rate of EUR541 (£479) per visit.

Beyond financial gain, the Austria Center Vienna’s record year helped to secure more than 3,700 jobs across the meetings and conference sector in Austria.

Austria Center Vienna aims to continue its record-breaking success in 2019 by undertaking the most extensive modernisation of its facilities in its history.

Renovation work includes building a skywalk and additional entrances in order for different events to take place at the same time.