Who, What, Where?
Alpine Pearls is a transnational network of destinations in the Alps. It currently consists of 21 members in five Alpine countries - Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland. The green initiatives vary, but examples include geothermal heating, water conservation, and smart tech solutions like light or air conditioning that turn themselves off when not in use. All members of the Alpine Pearls are focused on cutting emissions from the mobility sector, making sure it’s easy to choose low-emission transportation on your vacation. We asked what makes Alpine Pearls what makes them climate positive about the future. The association was founded in 2006 by 17 members, the "Pearls of the Alps", based in Werfenweng in Austria. Each of the 21 resorts has a special focus on soft mobility and sustainable tourism. This means that all destinations can be easily reached by public transportation and special offers such as shuttle services and hiking buses guarantee mobility at the destination. Alpine Pearls is the result of two European Union projects (Alps Mobility and Alps Mobility II - Alpine Pearls) that were initiated and coordinated by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management. The focus was on creating innovative, sustainable, and climate-friendly tourism offers with soft mobility - and the close networking of destinations.
What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?
Alpine Pearls is especially focused on developing soft mobility and moving guests away from traveling by car to a climate-friendly journey by public transport. Each Alpine Pearls member has its own individual and climate-friendly mobility offer, including public transport, shuttle services, hiking taxis, but also the rental of electric cars and bikes. In addition, environmentally-friendly summer and winter activities are offered. In summer, there is a wide range of opportunities for hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. During winter, in addition to alpine skiing, guests can choose between winter hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Special experiences such as ice climbing or ice swimming are offered in some pearls. Destinations in the Alps are often insufficiently connected to public transport and therefore difficult to reach for guests without a car. But of course, they would also like to spend their holidays in the mountains. The Pearls of the Alps have seized this opportunity and now offer individually suiting mobility solutions. For the journey by bus and train as well as for the mobility on-site, no own car is necessary. Holidays actually begin with the arrival by train: relaxed travel without traffic jams, where you can eat, read or rest comfortably.
In your industry, what do you think will be the most groundbreaking change over the next 10 years?
According to the trend, the demand for soft and sustainable tourism will increase, as well as the guests' desire for relaxation and mindfulness on holiday. People will continue to spend more and more of their holidays in nature and they want to be in an intact natural environment for their activities. This should be beneficial for the Alpine region and especially for Alpine Pearls. However, because the Alpine region is a fragile ecosystem, the ongoing climate change is a major risk. For tourism to be successful, the alps must be preserved, but it is tourism that is partly responsible for climate change. It is therefore inevitable that tourism needs to continue to develop sustainably.
What kind of guests visits you?
The interest in sustainability and sustainable tourism has reached the general public in recent months and years due to raised awareness of climate change, various climate disasters, and the Fridays-for-future’-movement. Especially ecologically interested and ’conscious’ travelers belong to the target group of sustainable tourism. However, in order to be able to target customers specifically, this large number of potential guests must be specified into a group suitable for the respective company. In the case of Alpine Pearls, we have defined this group as ’car-free households in big cities’. In cities, the proportion of households that live without a car is growing rapidly. They often use public transport and have rail advantage cards or use (e-)car sharing. This group is predestined for a holiday in the pearls of the alps, as we can offer concrete benefits with our mobility solutions for this target group. People who are used to living without a car also demand a convenient, all-round service without a car when being on holiday.
What has been the biggest challenge you needed to overcome?
The year 2020 has created major challenges in many areas. This includes the development of soft mobility. COVID-19 has slowed down the development and expansion of soft mobility considerably. As a result, many people decided to use their own car rather than using public transport.
What is the No.1 thing you want readers to think of when planning an eco- friendly vacation?
When planning a sustainable trip, mobility should be a major consideration. Travelers should prefer public transport to their own car, thus enabling a soft mobility journey. In addition, a sustainable concept should be taken into account when choosing hosts. During the vacation, the guests should prefer climate-neutral activities such as hiking, biking, or climbing. A sustainable vacation does not mean a restricted stay in any way!
What has been the best feedback you’ve gotten from users/guests
The best feedback for us is to hear that we are exactly the right partner for environmentally conscious travelers and that they find the right destinations that are easy to reach even without their own car and where mobility is also guaranteed
Where can readers find more information?
On Alpine-pearls.com, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
If you want to learn more about climate-friendly traveling check out our post about planning last-minute staycations, or how to reduce your environmental footprints on roadtrips.
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