Dubai – MENA Herald: Tourists from the region are continuing to flock to Vienna, with 2015 has already proven to be another record-breaking year for arrivals and overnights in Vienna.

From January to October, overnights from the UAE have soared 48.2% compared to 2014, recording 110,663 so far. Arrivals have also seen a similar explosive growth, with 50,891 from the UAE, up by 44.8% when compared with the previous year. Saudi Arabia also recorded a 20.4% growth in overnights, and arrivals increased by 19.4%.

As a destination, Vienna has a high international appeal, with more than 80% of visitors coming from outside Austria’s borders. Of the 13.5 million overnight stays Vienna reported in 2014, around 20% were accounted for by German guests and 18% by Austrians. The next largest incoming markets were the USA, Italy and Russia. Guests from the GCC made up for approximately 295,000 overnight stays in 2014.

Vienna – A Winter Wonderland

“Vienna sees most visitors from the region in summer, but the Vienna Tourist Board also registered a significant growth of visitors from the GCC in the winter months. While tourists in summer enjoy the numerous street cafés and walks in the more than 850 green parks of the city, winter invites with shopping experiences in international designer brand stores in the UNESCO heritage protected city centre, cosy coffeehouses and pastry shops – a centerpiece of Viennese culture – or a stroll over the romantically illuminated season markets,” said Vienna Tourism Board’s Verena Hable at an exclusive event at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC.

The capital’s hundreds of magical festive markets are the perfect place to get in the mood for the festive season, and most run until just after Christmas. With such a wide variety of markets to choose from, there is something for everyone. Traditionalists make a beeline for the large markets in the city centre, such as the one on Rathausplatz set against the imposing backdrop of City Hall. The season markets at Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace have a distinctly imperial feel. For anyone looking for beautiful handcrafted artworks, the Arts & Crafts Market on Karlsplatz, Spittelberg and Am Hof are the places to go. The season market at MuseumsQuartier is a magnet for fans of designer goods, while foodies will be in their element on Mahlerstrasse and in the courtyard of specialist tea store Haas & Haas.

For New Year’s celebrations, the New Year’s market in front of Schönbrunn Palace and the New Year’s Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz are perfect for picking up high-quality handicrafts, delicious snacks and good luck charms for the turn of the year. Vienna’s historic old town is transformed into a giant party venue on the last day of the year.

The New Year’s Eve Trail winds its way from City Hall Square through the narrow streets of the Old Town, with a host of concerts and shows. The Hofburg New Year’s Eve Ball is a glittering night to remember in an imperial setting – featuring beautiful melodies and performances by top stars from the world of ballet and opera. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra New Year’s Concert in the Golden Hall at the Musikverein is an unmissable part of the New Year’s experience – with a dress rehearsal, New Year’s Eve Concert and New Year’s Day Concert, the concert is watched by around 50 million people from all corners of the earth each year.

The Danube provides another popular setting for people to take in the bright lights of the city. A New Year’s cruise aboard one of the DDSG Blue Danube liners includes an elegant dinner and entertaining live music. Alternatively people head to one of the capital’s landmark hills — the Kahlenberg, Leopoldsberg or Cobenzl — which provide the best view of all the fireworks in the city as the New Year rolls in.

The city’s biggest ice-skating rink the Vienna City Hall delivers the perfect backdrop for an idyllic winter dream into the new year. From 21 January to 6 March 2016, City Hall Square will transform into a giant ice rink and becomes a paradise for skating fans of every age.

Getting to Vienna

At present, 172 destinations are connected with direct flights operated by 70 airlines – among them Gulf carriers Emirates (14 times per week), Etihad Airways/ NIKI and Qatar (both 7 times per week). Royal Jordanian operates flights to Vienna 5 times per week, Turkish Airlines four flights per day from Istanbul Ataturk airport.