Last week I was invited as a speaker to the 'Latest Trends and Innovations in Tourism' seminar series at MODUL University Vienna.Academics and professionals from different sectors are invited to present recent developments in research and business and I felt honored to represent Amadeus Rail and share with the students ‘How high speed rail changes the future of European passenger rail’.
Rail travel and city tourism
Speaking from my own experience I know that the rail industry doesn’t play a big role in the tourism industry as such and one can observe the same tendency when it comes to tourism education – usually the focus is set very clear on the airline and hotel industry. After working a few years at the Vienna Tourist Board I can say that from a destination management perspective most lobbying efforts are concentrated around getting more airlines, more flight connections and more international hotel brands to increase the touristic success of a city.
Clearly international flight connections are essential for the connectivity of a city and even more so as tourists arriving by plane spend on average fifty percent more on accommodation, gastronomy and cultural activities than those arriving by car or train. Still, one should not forget that in many European cities one out of four overnight guests arrives to the destination by train. Imagine the enormous potential for cities once accessibility of train tickets becomes as easy as for flights. And think of all the additional rail customers once travellers can compare easily if the best way to get to a city is by train, plane or car.
How students perceive high speed rail
After the seminar I really felt that the students started to see rail travel differently and developed a better understanding of the impact high speed rail travel has on tourism in Europe. Following the presentation we had a lively discussion about safety issues, the ecological impact of building new tracks and why investments in rail networks is something that could give tourism in Latin America and Africa a real boost. The students shared very interesting and also critical opinions, enriched through the fact that they come from different countries all over the world and have very different backgrounds.
All in all it was a wonderful experience for me and I am glad I had the chance to get some students excited about what the future will bring for high speed rail. Also, I want to thank the students who shared their viewpoints with me and those who were brave enough to join for a picture :)