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European High-speed rail: the success of a city

May 21, 2013
Author: Katrin Heintschel

Last week I was invited as a speaker to the 'Latest Trends and Innovations in Tourismseminar series at MODUL University Vienna where I shared with students  ‘How European high-speed rail will change the future of rail passengers'.

Rail travel and city tourism

Speaking from my own experience, the rail industry doesn’t play a big role in the tourism industry. We can observe the same tendency when it comes to tourism education – the focus is set very clear on the airline and hotel industry. After working a few years at the Vienna Tourist Board, most lobbying efforts are concentrated around getting more flight connections and more international hotel brands to increase a city's touristic success.

Flight connections are essential for a city's connectivity 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, in many European cities 1 out of 4 overnight guests arrives by train.

Imagine the enormous potential for cities once train tickets accessibility 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.

High-speed rail from a student's perspective 

After the seminar, I really felt that the students started to see rail travel differently and developed a better understanding of high-speed rail travel impact on European tourism. Following the presentation, we had a discussion about rail safety issues, the ecological impact of building new tracks and why rail investments are something that could give tourism in Latin America and Africa a real boost. 

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. 

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