The return of Austrian Airlines to South African skies is expected to boost the untapped potential of the pan-Germanic market, bringing more tourists to Southern Africa.

The airline announced this week that it would be reintroducing its Vienna-Cape Town service from October 2018.

David Frost, CEO of Satsa, said if one looked at the numbers of arrivals to South Africa – not only from Austria but the pan-Germanic market – it was positive for tourism, as more than just Austrians would be using the service as one had to also consider south Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Frost gave credit to Wesgro, which helped secure the return of Austrian Airlines to SA. He also mentioned that the topic of airlift into SA would be up for discussion at the Satsa conference, which is to be held in August.

SA Tourism’s Head of the Central Europe Hub, Theresa Bay-Müller, said: “South African Tourism supports the expansion from the German-speaking markets, especially as Vienna can also be seen as a hub for further European add-on connections.

“SAT now has a clear focus on Austria as a market for tourist arrivals to South Africa and the newly formed SA Tourism Central European Hub, managed from Frankfurt, has devised a robust marketing plan to enter the Austrian market.”

Bay-Müller added that the confidence instilled by a well-known quality airline, such as Austrian Airlines, would certainly lift the buying curve to South Africa as a destination.

Austrian Airlines previously offered flights to Cape Town between 1997 and 1999. The airline will offer a seasonal service, starting October 27, 2018, of two weekly flights from Vienna to Cape Town.

“The new direct route as well as the new cabin class will provide both business and leisure passengers between Vienna and Cape Town an exciting new travel experience. Furthermore, this reinforces the Lufthansa Group’s commitment to connecting South Africa to our European home markets; unlocking trade, tourism, and economic opportunities,” said Dr André Schulz, Lufthansa Group General Manager for Southern Africa.

Austrian arrivals into SA have been steadily growing, with a 14% increase year-to-date, according to the latest figures from Statistics SA.