Tourism is an important part of Austria's services sector. In 1991 foreign tourists accounted for earnings of S192.4 billion, almost offsetting the negative trade balance and deficits in services or other accounts. Tourism is a principal industry and source of foreign exchange. In fact, Austria's per capita tourist revenue is the highest in the world. Foreign overnight stays in Austria have risen consistently since World War II, from 50 million in 1950, to 59 million in 1970, and to 95 million in 1990. With 20 million visitors in 1990, Austria was fifth in the world in tourist revenues, surpassed only by the United States, France, Italy, and Spain. Most tourists come from European countries. Almost two-thirds come from Germany, followed by the Netherlands (10 percent) and Britain (5 percent).
Austria's largest tourist attraction has long been the Alps-- for skiing in the winter and for hiking and camping in the summer. For this reason, the mountainous provinces of Tirol, Carinthia, and Vorarlberg produce the greatest tourist revenues. Salzburg is an important tourist attraction in the summer. Vienna remains a tourist center all year but does not generate as much tourist revenue as the mountain areas.
Austria has 20,000 hotels and pensions, as well as an additional 50,000 private rooms available to house tourists. In addition, there are thousands of simpler accommodations, such as youth hostels, mountain huts, and campsites.
Austria has also made significant progress in becoming an international conference center. The so-called United Nations City, located outside Vienna, contains the headquarters of a number of major United Nations (UN) organizations. Vienna also has an international conference center. Taking advantage of Austria's neutral status, Vienna has hosted numerous East-West negotiations and is the permanent seat not only of such longestablished organizations as the International Atomic Energy Agency but also of the newer Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The opening of Eastern Europe is likely to make Vienna an even more important center for East-West travel.
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