A new section on the website of the Austrian National Tourist Office UK and Ireland is highlighting the country’s strong eco-friendly travel options for visitors. Although being green is a way of life for Austrians, they have until now not heralded their green credentials as much as other tourist destinations.
“Staying in one of Austria’s leading environmentally-friendly resorts, such as Lech, could in some cases even cause fewer CO2 emissions than staying at home in the UK,” said Veronica Tonge. She has recently completed a study into “The Role of Ski Tourists’ Level of Awareness of Responsible Tourism Issues in Determining Destination Choice” in association with the International Center for Responsible Tourism.
Alfred Strigl, deputy director of the Austrian Institute for Sustainability, said, “When it comes to the environment, Austrians are at the top of Europe and the top of the world.”
But when it comes to eco-tourism, Austria’s deep-rooted environmental awareness has perhaps let it down. While other destinations have been quick to tell the world about their latest sustainable tourism initiatives, Austrians haven’t felt compelled to emphasize what has always been an inherent part of their lives. Austrians still think it’s unbecoming to flaunt projects they are essentially doing for their own sake.
In fact, Austria is one of the world’s best destinations for sustainable tourism, as recently recognized in the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.
Austria’s green credentials are remarkable mainly due to the strong legal framework that requires sustainable planning and development, not only in tourism, but also in all other industries.
Strict waste management regulations apply for businesses and households alike. 60% of waste is recycled, and Austria was the first European country where renewable energies make up more than 50% of national energy production. At the moment around 60% of energy produced in Austria is renewable, mainly hydropower and biomass.
Several Austrian towns and villages are promoting the concept of car-free holidays and low-traffic or vehicle-free zones, while cities such as Graz and Salzburg are converting their public transport to clean fuels.
Thermal spa and hotel Rogner Bad Blumau in Styria is one of Austria’s finest sustainable tourist destinations, not only going to great lengths to minimize its environmental impact, but also helping to transform the economy of what was once one of Austria’s poorest communities.
Austria also offers the opportunity to discover what life is like in a country that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and much of this can be explored by foot. Austria’s extensive national parks offer visitors insights into pristine habitats of sublime natural beauty. And in recent years, modern sustainable architecture has become the latest addition to Austria’s breathtaking views. Walking enthusiasts visiting Bregenzerwald, for example, will find that the region has not only recognized the vital role of non-industrial dairy farming in maintaining the stunning Alpine landscape, its state-of-the-art, low-carbon ‘passive houses’ that use only 10% of a normal household, also catch the eye. (http://www.austriatourism.com/uk)