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Vienna Film Incentive: Driver For the Film Location and Its Visitor Economy

According to the Vienna Film Commission, more than 1,000 filming requests were submitted in 2022, of which over 600 were realized. In order to encourage international productions to come to Vienna, the City of Vienna launched the Vienna Film Incentive in 2022. Open to both conventional film productions as well as television series, it is also clearly aimed at productions for streaming providers. “The Vienna Film Incentive is a contemporary funding instrument. By extending the scope of funding to productions for streaming providers, it reflects the latest developments in the filmmaking industry,” explained Peter Hanke, Executive City Councilor of Finance, Business, Labor, International Affairs and Vienna Public Utilities, when he unveiled the new fund in spring 2022. The Vienna Film Incentive should be seen as a source of assistance that ties in closely with the tourism industry. It is intended to benefit Vienna’s visitor economy – both businesses and the city as a tourist destination – as it charts its course out of the pandemic.

EUR 2 million for Tourism and Business

Under the Vienna Film Incentive, the City of Vienna will be investing EUR 2 million between now and the end of 2023 to inspire international filmmakers to shoot their productions in the Austrian capital. Funding is open to international productions that are filmed wholly or partly in Vienna and include a minimum of two full days of filming in the city. Besides primary economic effects such as the value added that productions generate directly on site and the associated employment effects, the initiative specifically focuses on image building for tourism. Using Vienna as a filming location not only translates into commissions for local business, as well as expenditure on accommodation and hospitality for film crews, but also pays dividends in the long run in terms of the city’s attractiveness as a tourism destination. Which is why the decision was taken to entrust the Vienna Tourist Board with operating the new Vienna Film Incentive. In its new role, the organization is the point of contact and processing body.

Video an Integral Part of the Image Building Toolkit

Films and tourism marketing complement one another perfectly. Film has been an integral part of the image building toolkit for every destination ever since moving pictures were first shown to an audience in 1895. And now this new source of funding is helping the Vienna Tourist Board to expand its portfolio: in addition to conventional international marketing communication activities, it is now in a position to instrumentalize film funding as a way to raise awareness among prospective visitors. This is of particular relevance when it comes to establishing the destination in long-haul markets, where the goal is to increase recall values for Vienna and boost the city’s image by harnessing the potential of popular culture.

Film as a Reason to Travel – Far More Common for Vienna Than the European Average

The Travelsat Index compiled by Brussels-based international online market research company TCI Research revealed that around 100 million travelers selected their destination chiefly as a result of films between 2017 and 2019. The findings also underlined Vienna’s competitive advantage over its European peers. This was borne out by responses to the question of how much films influenced people’s choice of travel destination. The data behind the film-induced attractiveness index reveals how appealing a location is for film fans and how important film is for choosing a travel destination. Vienna was significantly above the European benchmark of 100, with a value of 170. Further examination of the data showed that one in ten visitors to Vienna primarily selected the city due to a film.

Film Fans as Multipliers

According to TCI, visitors whose choice of destination is inspired by films are generally around 10% more receptive to destination marketing than the average for all visitors, and also tend to travel more frequently in the off season. At the same time, they are more active sharers of their travel experiences on social media (27% higher) and are more likely to contribute recommendations than the average traveler (6% higher). They take part in more cultural or nature-related activities than average (19% higher) and are also more satisfied with most aspects of their stay. Among this cohort, satisfaction rates for tours and excursions (31% higher), landscape (21% higher) and leisure and cultural variety (29% higher) are likewise above the benchmark. This trend is particularly pronounced among millennials and visitors from high-spending markets such as China and the Gulf States.

Eligible International Film Productions

Under the Vienna Film Incentive, funding is provided solely to cover expenses incurred in Vienna, which in turn enhance the city’s standing as a business location. Funding is available for international fiction and non-fiction productions that involve at least two full days of filming in Vienna and last a minimum of 45 minutes (for series, the lengths of the individual episodes can be counted together). Another requirement is that an Austrian film production service company has to be on board. Applicants also need to specify whether the production is destined for release in cinemas, on TV or as video on demand. In the case of films, the total production costs must amount to at least EUR 4 million, and at least EUR 500,000 for documentaries. Funding can be provided for a maximum of 30% of the qualifying production costs. The upper limit for funding is EUR 400,000 per project. Company productions, advertising or promotional films, entertainment shows, magazine and reportage features, as well as recordings of theater, opera or concert productions are not eligible for funding. Applicants must also complete a checklist which uses a points system to evaluate various factors, including how many scenes are set in Vienna and what locations are used. It also provides information on whether the film is based on existing content such as literary works with ties to the city, identifies whether topics with a link to Viennese culture or society are covered and establishes the extent to which Austrian film service providers are involved in production of the film. Funding is only awarded if the project meets the required number of criteria and achieves the minimum number of points stipulated and, at the copy deadline, is up and running by the end of 2023.

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