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Austria Gets Hit by First Effects of Schengen Veto – Experiences Decreases in Tourism 

Romanians that were looking forward to spending winter holidays in Austria’s many tourist destinations have started calling off their bookings, following Austria’s Schengen Veto, which prevents Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen Area.

In a recent interview, the ÖVP State Secretary Kraus-Winkler revealed that the veto is affecting the country’s tourism sector, also saying that the world should always be as open as possible for tourism professionals, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to her, 0.7 per cent of the total overnight stays are spent by Romanian tourists, which accounts for almost one million nights spent in Austria. Romanians are particularly attracted to winter sports and city tourism that Austria has to offer at this time of the year.

“So right now, when the winter season is beginning, I hear also from the first cancellations. We very much hope that this will calm down as soon as possible,” the ÖVP State Secretary said.

However, Kraus-Winkler, just like the Austrian Interior Minister, still stand behind the Schengen veto, with the state secretary recently emphasising that the fact that Schengen is not expanded does not change the status quo – nothing worsens either.

On the other hand, Austria, like many other European countries, is dealing with a shortage of workers, and some regions are requiring nearly 1,000 additional seasonal worker positions, in addition to the current number of 3,000, in a bid to tackle labour shortages.

As a result, the state secretary advocated for changes to Austria’s card, including the option to add additional languages such as French while currently, German and English are mandatory. The state secretary also wants to work to ensure that asylum seekers are placed with tourism companies.

Currently, Romania and Bulgaria are part of the European Union, and nationals of both countries can visit any country in the Schengen Area for a 90-day period, without having to apply for a visa.

On the other hand, Romania hasn’t taken Austria’s position in the Schengen Area enlargement plan lightly, and in response, the government might block Austria from taking over the Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which will be elected on December 23.

We must not create a rift between Romanians and Austrians. I repeat, [the vote against Romania] is a decision of some temporary political leaders who now rule Austria. Our response must be commensurate. They have used their right to veto. Romania, at this moment, has an obligation to do the same,” President Ciolacu has said.

The OSCE is an organisation of 57 countries in the world, which gathers representatives of each country to contribute to the stability of a situation in conflict and peace-fragile regions in the world. OSCE’s leadership is appointed through the negotiation of the member state countries, among which Romania and Bulgaria.

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