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According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, over one million refugees sought refuge in Europe last year, more than 350,000 of them from Syria and an additional 300,000 from Afghanistan and Iraq combined. As of August 1 of this year, an additional 261,000 people had already crossed into Europe, significantly down from a year earlier, but still enough to overwhelm authorities across the Continent.
Austria — which took in 90,000 refugees last year and has pledged to take in another 37,500 by the end of 2016 — is a small, landlocked country with less than 8.5 million people, but is nonetheless at the heart of this crisis: It borders eight other countries in the Europe and had to shut down its rail lines at one point last year when they were overwhelmed by the flow of migrants trying to get to Germany.
As Austrians and the rest of Europe embark on their August holiday, Director of the Austrian Tourist Office in New York, Michael Gigl, explains how Austrians' travel plans have been affected by the ongoing migrant crisis, what visitors trying to cross into Austria can expect this month and how the crisis is changing the country.