For the first time in its existence since 1990, the Austrian Ecolabel has been awarded to an entire tourism region. Wagrain-Kleinarl is now allowed to use the unmistakable seal designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in connection with its regional brand at the same time as Seefeld in Tirol.
The Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourist Association has long focused its commitment on a sustainable transformation of tourism in its region. « We can rightly call ourselves a pioneer region » – emphasizes Stefan Passrugger, Tourism Director of Wagrain-Kleinarl – « We see our task as nothing less than breaking new ground in tourism and setting an example that is sustainable, environmentally friendly and geared towards a future worth living in. » . ”
The first major milestone was the globally recognized certification of Wagrain-Kleinarl as a Green Destination according to the rules of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The fact that there is only one other « Green Destination » in Europe besides Wagrain-Kleinarl speaks volumes. In February of this year, the award as « Best Tourism Village by UNWTO » followed. The Austrian eco-label is now the highlight and in Austria it is certainly also the stronger signal for sustainable development.
Stefan Passrugger continues: « It’s not about celebrating a Hall of Fame of sustainability and environmental certificates, it’s about accelerating and intensifying our work, finding and implementing solutions in which tourism. “ paid into the climate, environment, sustainability and living space and not the other way around. Renowned seals and certificates are driving awareness and behavior change in the destination enormously. There are no more excuses. They bring the right spirit to the local people.”
“Tourists usually ask themselves, ‘What can we do for tourism in our region?’ We ask ourselves: « What can tourism do for our habitat? » « Human-centric » has long acted and communicated the motto of marketing organizations, but it has to be « planet-centric » in order to put people back in their right place and in order to remain sustainable. We are working on a major challenge in tourism that affects not only us, but probably all holiday regions. For decades, the system of mass and seasonal tourism became the dominant paradigm to which everything else in a tourism region had to be subordinate. Now it’s a matter of rearranging things, setting priorities differently. However, something like this cannot happen within 2 Corona years. « If we were to claim that, it would be pure ‘greenwashing’, » explains Wolfgang Wild, Head of Marketing and Communication at Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourismus, explaining how the tourism association understands its work. Nicole Nell, Sustainability Officer at Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourism, also states: « Being a pioneer region in terms of sustainability and the environment means above all: getting into action, driving change and setting an example. » The Austrian Ecolabel is probably the clearest indication of our largest and also irreplaceable, irretrievable capital: on our environment, on our natural landscape.”
With the involvement of the entire population, Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourism is developing a tourism and living space strategy for 2033 that is geared towards sustainability, climate and the environment. In May of this year, the tourism association started the « regenerative holiday » project in cooperation with the eco-medical institute of the Paracelsus Private University in Salzburg. The university’s scientific team evaluates, measures and evaluates the scenic offer for its recreational and therapeutic effects.
« Exercise in alpine nature and landscape is the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health, » says the head of the Ecomedical Institute of the Paracelsus Private University in Salzburg, Univ.-Doz., Dr. Arnulf Hartl. “The varied alpine landscape of Wagrain-Kleinarl has a lot to offer here. Our project restores man’s connection to nature – to his natural habitat, without which he cannot exist. Urbanization, industrialization and digitization lead to a massive decoupling of humans from nature. Now it is urgent to restore a balance between man and nature.”
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