The Alpbachtal becomes a Green Destination
With a large package of measures, the Alpbachtal wants to become a pioneer in sustainable tourism.
Green events, electric charging stations, voluntary emission levies as a contribution from guests and the largest density of environmentally friendly businesses in Austria are on the broad agenda.
Sustainable tourism goes far beyond the topic of mobility. With the Congress Centrum Alpbach (CCA) and its Green Meeting concept, the Alpbachtal destination has already been considered a pioneer for sustainable tourism for years. Now this segment is to be further expanded. To this end, representatives of the municipality of Alpbach, the tourism region and the congress centre gathered to receive the environmental certifications from Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler in a festive setting. 13 accommodation establishments received the environmental certificate. The Congress Centrum Alpbach was recertified as a Green Location and the European Forum Alpbach received the Green Meeting Certificate for the 2021 event. Other projects were also presented.
‘The tourism region should be able to boast the largest density of environmentally certified accommodation establishments in Austria,’ says Markus Kofler, the managing director of Alpbachtal Tourismus. Each of the almost 600 landlords in the region can become more involved in environmental protection. Be it in the area of regional cuisine, thermal renovation or electronic charging stations. ‘Our goal is to develop an overall regional concept for the development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure,’ says Kofler. The topic of sustainability is one of seven guidelines laid down in the branding process of the tourism region. By the end of the summer, the gaps for electric mobility are to be closed. Furthermore, according to Kofler, all events of the tourism association are to be held as green events.
As a partner of the Climate and Energy Model Region, or ‘KEM’ for short, further projects are being pushed forward. According to mayor Markus Bischofer, these include better clocking and direct connections to public transport. ‘We will find and promote synergies between the municipality, the tourism association and the mountain railways,’ says Markus Bischofer. As a first step, a climate protection officer will support the municipality in implementing the environmental certifications of further businesses. Christine Margreiter, landlady at Gästehaus Leirerhäusl, which has now been certified with the Austrian Eco-label, also refers to this. ‘We are committed to using resources efficiently, out of conviction. The certification was a big step for us, and the support from all sides was very valuable,’ says Christine Margreiter.
With ‘Klimacent’, another KEM project is being developed in which CO2 fees will flow into regional climate projects. Voluntary fees will be collected from guests and the tourism association for regional climate funds. Local businesses and regional companies will be directly supported, for example in the expansion of photovoltaic systems.
The Congress Centrum Alpbach (CCA) has been following sustainable principles for years. With the large extension in 2016, new standards were set for the building. The high energy efficiency as well as the economical electricity consumption, which also comes one hundred percent from hydropower, are only individual measures from a long list that are fulfilled. For this, and also for its sustainable event management, the Congress Centrum Alpbach (CCA) has now once again received the award as a ‘Green Location’. ‘The CCA’s sustainability strategy is now an integral part of our corporate philosophy and more and more customers and partners are resolutely following this path,’ says Thomas Kahn, the CCA’s authorised signatory, delightedly. The award of the European Forum Alpbach with the Green Meeting Certificate for the 2021 event shows that even large events like the Forum can be implemented with sustainable commitment.
Interview: Markus Kofler/Managing Director Alpbachtal Tourism:
How did the strategic positioning as a green destination come about?
Sustainable tourism goes far beyond the topic of mobility. In 2019, we developed a new brand strategy in the tourism region. Seven strategic fields have been derived and crystallised from the Alpbachtal brand. One of them focuses strongly on environmentally friendly holidays. However, the topic of sustainability has been anchored in our region for much longer. The Congress Centrum Alpbach, which has been focusing on ‘green meetings’ for years, certainly gave a big impulse to this. With our Alpbachtal Card, tourists can use the public transport system, the Regiobus, free of charge. So it was clear that we want to and will continue to expand the topic of sustainability.
What goals are being pursued?
All events of the tourism association are to be held as green events in the future. The tourism region is also to have the largest density of environmentally certified accommodation establishments in Austria. Each of the 600 landlords in the region can become more involved in environmental protection. Be it thermal renovation or electronic charging stations. Furthermore, as a certified ‘KEM’ tourism region, we promote sustainable projects in the region. This also includes the expansion of electric charging stations. With ‘Klimacent’, another KEM Alpbachtal project is being developed, in which CO2 fees will flow into regional climate projects. Voluntary levies will be collected from guests and the tourism association for regional climate funds. Local businesses and regional companies will be directly supported, for example in the expansion of photovoltaic systems.
What do you see as the biggest challenges in implementing a sustainability strategy at destination level?
The challenge is to convince all partners of the project. In a tourism region there are different players with different wishes and ideas. In the Alpbachtal this has worked well. But nevertheless, I say today: it is better to implement many small steps than not to take a big step.
What should the Alpbachtal destination look like in 2040?
It should retain its authentic face in the future and still exploit the latest technical possibilities. I would like the population’s awareness to move in the direction of quality instead of quantity. Because a holiday destination that is worth living in will increase value creation in the long term.