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The future of Alpine tourism

The future of Alpine tourism

These regions set sustainable standards

Increasing tourist numbers are creating jobs and economic growth in many tourism regions. Countless places in the mountains and their valleys would not even be populated, let alone viable, without hiking or winter tourism. It is obvious that these developments do not just have advantages. Sustainable tourism strategies are therefore more important than ever and many places in the Alps, which are visited year after year by travelers from all over the world, are already taking the first measures here - the keyword is gentle tourism. Often referred to as sustainable, responsible tourism, it strives to balance economy and ecology. He values ​​the protection of the natural environment and local culture. In short: it's about ensuring that the positive effects for the region do not come at the expense of the environment and cultural resources.

We looked at where innovative approaches are already being pursued to create a sustainable and future-proof tourism industry in the Alps. From the arrival to the on-site activities to the departure, these regions attach particular importance to impacting the natural conditions as little as possible and acting in an environmentally friendly manner.

South Tyrol: the pioneer of the Slow Food movement

With its impressive landscape and fascinating culture, South Tyrol is not only a popular travel destination, but also stands as an outstanding example of sustainable tourism. The region combines conservation, eco-friendly initiatives and the preservation of local traditions to offer travelers an authentic and responsible experience. South Tyrol has its own seal of quality (“South Tyrol Sustainability Label”). It is based on the criteria of Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is awarded to those actors in the tourism sector who make a contribution to the preservation of unique nature and the well-being of the people who live here.

South Tyrolean cheese

Apart from that, the northernmost region of Italy attaches great importance to sustainability in one area in particular: food. The region is a pioneer Slow Food movement and impresses with traditional dishes made from local, high-quality raw materials and careful preparation. The focus here is on historic cheeses, rare breeds of sheep and cattle, traditional bread recipes or lupine coffee from small mountain businesses that preserve traditional knowledge and craftsmanship.

South Tyrolean cheese

Slovenia: the green destination of the world

No matter which sustainability list you look at, one country is guaranteed to always be in one of the top places: Slovenia. The state, which is characterized by the Julian Alps, the Steiner Alps and the Pohorje Mountains and is crossed by numerous hiking and cycling trails, meets 96 out of 100 criteria for green destinations and is therefore officially considered one of the most sustainable destinations in the world. Slovenia is also the first country to receive the title of “Green Destination in the World”.

Slovenia's Alps

Under the umbrella of the seal of quality “Slovenia Green” Slovenia sets green policies and creates sustainable experiences. The seven categories Destination, Accommodation, Park, Attraction, Travel Agency, Cuisine and Beach distinguish tourism companies that stand out for their particularly sustainable actions and already have more than 280 members. Slovenia is also part of the Zero Waste Initiative, relies on sustainable mobility and public transport, has some of the highest biodiversity in the world and is therefore a prime example of sustainable tourism concepts.

Switzerland: Champions of sustainable mobility

Alps always means Switzerland. Our beautiful neighboring country beckons with all sorts of mountain adventures both in winter and summer and knows exactly how to make them sustainable. With “Swisstainable”, Switzerland is pursuing a sustainability strategy that is based on enjoying nature in its original form, experiencing the local culture authentically, consuming regionally and getting to know the country properly and in detail.

Dense rail network in Zermatt

The Alpine country has one of the densest (and best-functioning) rail networks in the world, is a recycling champion, is considered an air and climate health resort and constantly looks after the forests. Especially the car-free tourist resorts in the mountains like Zermatt, Mürren, Wengen or Saas-Fee (and a few more) prove that a mountain holiday (even in winter) is possible without a car. The mountain railways in Switzerland are now green and the route to the summit can therefore be reached with a low CO2 footprint. The “Brunni-Bahnen” have managed to use innovative measures to set new standards for environmentally friendly tourism in the Swiss mountain railway network and to make their mountain railway operations completely climate-neutral.

Climate-neutral mountain railways

Car-free winter holidays are not only possible in Switzerland. Here are five places in the mountains that are easily accessible without a car.

France: environmentally conscious in winter sports

Sustainability efforts are also in full swing in the French Alps. The mountain resorts there focus on protecting valuable natural resources, preserving biological diversity and promoting responsible travel.


Nine French ski resorts, including La Vallée de Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Chamrousse and Valberg, have registered under the Label “Flocon Vert” for example, obliged to promote responsible tourism. This includes reducing energy consumption, environmental protection, natural resource conservation, improved waste management, more efficient transportation systems, and sustainable construction and responsible agricultural practices.

In Les Alpes 2, one of the most famous ski resorts in France, is particularly committed to the glacier that is part of the ski area. The snow groomers on site use GPS and radar to compare the snow depth with a reference line determined at the beginning of the season. A team of snow specialists then analyzes the data to assess the impact of visitors on the glacier and take appropriate mitigation measures.

The mountaineering villages: sustainable association in alpine tourism

Anyone who talks about sustainable tourism in the Alps is missing the point Mountaineering villages not around. They are not a single region, but an association of now 38 communities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy. In these, a gentle tourism philosophy, nature and landscape protection, originality and tradition, environmentally friendly mobility and information exchange are high on the agenda. The mountaineering villages are exemplary regional development centers in sustainable alpine tourism with a corresponding tradition. They act according to the protocols of the Alpine Convention, which is based on a treaty between the 8 Alpine states and the EU on the sustainable development and protection of the Alps.

Mountaineering villages

By the way, the first mountaineering villages were built in Austria. The initiative was launched in 2008 Austrian Alpine Club started and has also been represented in the Alpine clubs of neighboring countries since 2016. As alpine competence centers, the mountaineering villages rely on personal responsibility, skills, sovereignty and environmentally conscious and responsible behavior of their guests in the mountains.

© Photos: Unsplash / Yann Lauener, Daniel Sessler, Alexander Maasch, Jonatan Pie, Victor He, Judith Hehl, Unsplash / Antoine de Barquin, TVB Osttirol Villgratental

Nadine is a freelance editor and copywriter. She lives in Austria and commutes between Salzburg, Styria and Vienna. She is therefore either in the mountains or in the urban jungle, but at the same time tries to spend as much time as possible in her heart country Portugal.



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