Ecotourism is booming : Resort in Austria: This is how green luxury works

Eco-tourism, gentle tourism or green travel: Sustainable travel has many names and is very much in vogue.

Ecotourism is booming : Resort in Austria: This is how green luxury works

Eco-tourism, gentle tourism or green travel: Sustainable travel has many names and is very much in vogue. More and more people want to discover the world without harming it. In a Statista survey from 2019, 57 percent of vacationers from German-speaking countries stated that vacation trips should be as socially acceptable, resource-saving and environmentally friendly as possible. For 23 percent of those surveyed, sustainability was also an aspect when planning their vacation trips in 2018. But how does ecotourism work and how can you tell whether a provider fits this concept or not?

In 1990 the International Ecotourism Society was founded in the USA. She defined sustainable tourism as "responsible travel that protects the environment and increases the wealth of local people". The concept therefore includes not only ecological but also social aspects. The goal of this form of travel is to show special consideration for the local population while at the same time polluting the nature of ecologically important and protected areas as little as possible.

The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation also takes various aspects into account when defining the principle of sustainability: the protection and development of the natural and cultural heritage, the improvement of the quality of life of the local population and the economic strengthening of the region. But for the Federal Office, guaranteeing a high level of guest satisfaction is also part of this concept.

For those who want to travel consistently sustainably, it is not enough to simply do without a long flight. Likewise, it is a fallacy to believe that long-distance travel per se cannot be sustainable. Ecotourism is based on different aspects that can be considered either individually or collectively.

The European VISIT initiative (Voluntary Initiative for Sustainability in Tourism) has developed a whole series of criteria to be able to assess tourism services with regard to their sustainability, including the energy balance of an accommodation or locality. However, this does not take into account the total amount of electricity consumed, but the source of the energy.

Water consumption is another important criterion. But here, too, it's not about the amount, but the way it is used. Effective waste management is also a key criterion. This involves such questions as: Is waste disposed of illegally ? Are there negative health effects of waste disposal (e.g. through incineration)?

If you want to travel sustainably, you should keep these criteria in mind:

The tourism industry has long recognized the trend towards sustainable travel and is converting. In the Alpine region, eco-hotels are springing up all over the place. The mountain village of Priesteregg in Salzburger Land, for example, demonstrates how to make a sustainable holiday.

For the tenth anniversary last year, the family business was transformed into a Premium ECO Resort. Together with the German Viessmann Group, an ecological energy concept was developed here that supplies all 18 chalets and the spa with heat, water and electricity: sun, earth, waste water heat recovery, biomass and biogas serve as energy sources for ecological energy production.

The pools and hot-tubs in the chalets, for example, are operated with the photovoltaic system and a bioliquid combined heat and power generation system, with the waste heat from the water being recovered and fed into the energy system.

The idea of ​​sustainability is also reflected in the architecture of the chalet village. The spa is built into the hillside, its flat roof is planted, a lot of old wood was used for the construction, some chalets are reminiscent of tree houses. Two e-bus shuttles taxi guests on the premises.

Green luxury is the motto here. Surrounded by forest and meadows, the traditional mountain chalets and the innovative villas are exclusive enough for a secluded holiday with lots of privacy. A special highlight: The breakfast is brought into the house and served as if by magic. Of course, the breakfast eggs come from happy hens from Biohog Enn in Rosental, where the animals enjoy a daily run and sand bath.

But eco-luxury has its price. The cheapest chalet is available from €276 per person per night.

Another example of a successful eco-friendly hotel is the Forestis in South Tyrol. The house has been in the mountains for over 100 years and was once a sanatorium for lung patients. The historic building has been home to a 5-star hotel since May of this year.

The operators attach particular importance to the use of local products. In the future, almost exclusively local materials will be used for the expansion of the suites. Farmers from the area supply the kitchen. And in the bar, drinks are mixed with essences from the surrounding forests, such as herbs, nuts, berries, but also bushes, bark and tree needles. In October, room prices start at 392 euros.

However, the ecotourism boom is also attracting black sheep. Many a tour operator tries to sell any form of nature-based travel as an eco-holiday. So how can it be ensured that where it says eco on it, it also contains eco? There are countless seals on the market, both from providers in the private sector and from state authorities. The VISIT initiative of the EU also provides assistance here. The project brought together the various European ecotourism labels and developed the "Green Globe 21" seal of approval, which is awarded worldwide. You can find an overview of the most important seals in this document.

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