Category Archives: Talking about Tourism

Tourismusforum Alpenregionen – a look back

On Monday I attended the Tourismusforum Alpenregionen in Zell am See. This event is an annual conference where tourism professionals of the Alps meet up. It is in german, therefore its mainly Austrians and Swiss – this year with a lot of Swiss people. The most are Destination Managers or CEOs of Ski resorts. I attended as I was interested into the afternoon session – which was titled “Grow – From the West to the East to the Far East – the markets of the future”. The morning session did not really fit my interests and I was rather disappointed, but I had some nice talks during lunch breaks and “Networking” is one of the main reasons to attend this kind of event.

The afternoon session was much better and I could learn a lot. There were presentations by a guy from the Austrian Tourist board, Renate Ecker from Zell am See/Kaprun tourism, Stefan Otz from Interlaken tourism, Ankita Makwana, an indian movie director, who lives in Mumbai and Zurich and finally from Waseem Hussain, a swiss/indian business man, who supports Swiss companies who do business in India and vice versa.

It was very interesting to hear about the specific needs people from different countries have and to get examples from people who have guests from this regions for some years already. I thought it was very inspiring and am happy that I attended. I especially liked the very international approach of Interlaken, who have guests from all over the world, which is very unusual for the alpine tourism destinations. I will definitely visit Interlaken in the next couple of months to see, how the international mixture of guests in a swiss town looks and feels.

Anyone ever been to Interlaken? Did you enjoy it? What are the things to be done there?

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Going to Berlin: Train vs Plane?

In March I will attend the biggest tourism fair worldwide – the ITB Berlin. I am really looking forward to this, as I have never attended this fair before and I never visited Berlin, either. I will use the ITB to meet potential partners for my company (www.happyheartofeurope.com)

Today I was planning my trip to Berlin and after checking flights and connections I also checked the train schedule.

This was my outcome:

Best way to get to Berlin by Plane is via Zurich Airport: It will take me 5 hours 30 minutes to get from my place to Berlin City Center and it will cost me €310 (with 15 minutes estimated from arriving at Berlin Tegel to leaving the Airport)*

To go there by Train it will take me 9 hours and 10 minutes – for €88. This is possible due to a special offer of the Austrian Railway Operator. I am not allowed to change my schedule (but I am not allowed to do this on the plane, too).*

* both options with my house as starting point

I went for the train option – for several reason:

  • Costs – €230 are good money, and as I am setting up a company, this is something I have to consider.
  • I do like train rides – I have always plenty to do: read a book, have some coffee, work on my net-book or prepare my appointments… if the train is not too crowded, a lot of work can be done. Moreover I will be able to SEE a lot of Germany, just by passing through it – and I am looking forward to that.
  • My carbon footprint – train rides are more ecological. I did some very long flights in December (to and from India) and I believe its time to be more aware of my carbon footprint again.
  • Social aspects – I somehow tend to be get drawn into interesting conversations, while taking the train – and I can remember only one conversation to a stranger on a plane. This might be connected to my
  • Slight feeling of shakiness, whenever I am flying. I know its safe, I know nothing will happen – but still I am getting nervous during when starting, during landings and whenever we hit the slightest turbulences.

 

As you can see, the time factor was not my decisive for flying. As I am using my train time to do some work, I do not feel I lose that much time, that it weights up all the other upsides of taking the train.

So, what are your thoughts … is time so valuable that you always take the fastest options? Have you suffered too much on trains to consider them (I have friends who tell me just that)? Are you a airplane enthusiast? – or would you have made the same decision?

 

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HISTORYcal.Feldkirch & great ideas

Today I discovered a great city guide of my hometown for english speaking people. It is called HISTORYcal.Feldkirch and shows 22 places in Feldkirchs medieval Center which are all also connected to legends.

I believe this is a great way to discover Feldkirch and I will check this out myself soon.

Here you can find this very informative brochure – HYSTORYcal.Feldkirch

I found out about this great tool for visitors, as I was looking for information about “Yes, you can WCs” – this is an initiative by 10 restaurants in the centre, which allow visitors of Feldkirch to use their restrooms, without having to order something. I believe this is a great idea, as we all know how terrible it is, to visit a city and then you just cannot find a public restroom. Especially families have problems with that. I hope that all 10 restaurants stay with this idea and am sure that this is a great thing to do, not only from a human but also a marketing perspective. Because after all your sightseeing, you will also look for a place to have lunch or dinner, or just a drink – and then you might remember the restaurant, that provided you in times of trouble.

Another idea developed by Feldkirch City Marketing together with shops and restaurants is “Feldkirch überdacht”. We all know the situation – its morning, weather looks great and you visit a city for sightseeing or shopping. Suddenly weather changes and its raining cats and dogs. In Feldkirch they found a solution to keep their guests dry – in all shops and restaurants you can get an orange umbrella – free of charge. As soon as the sun comes out again, you can drop it in any of the participating shops (or you just leave it in your hotel or appartment, they will return it”).

I really love small ideas like this, who give people an added value for free.

Can you think of ideas like that in your region? I would be happy to hear about them!

To get some impressions from Feldkirch, you can also read this blog entry “It´s cold outside…”, which shows some pictures of Feldkirch I took some days ago.

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Alpinism vs Tourism – interesting discussion

Yesterday evening there was a fascination discussion in Servus TV, which raised an interesing question. “Is tourism endangering the moutains and their natural beauty?” – this was not the main topic, but it was an interesting aspect.

Servus TV is an Austrian privately owned TV Channel, which is connected to Red Bull – they show amazing documentaries and their “Talk im Hangar 7” talkshow is one of the best in german speaking TV. Yesterday the main guest was Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner – she was the second woman to do all 14 8000+ Mountains, and the first do so without additional oxygen. After some talk about her expedition, there was a question raised – do all the tourists in the Himalaya destroy it´s natural beauty. A feature showed a pre-taped recording of Reinhold Messner, who said, that people who go to the Mount Everest on the main routes are not “Alpinists, but Tourists“, as they are walking on a prepared piste. Although he said, he does not want to condemn that, it was quite obvious, that he did not like this developments. Kurt Luger, head of Ecohimal, made a very interesting statement in the following discussion: Reinhold Messner is a tourist himself, when he is doing an expedition in Pakistan or Nepal.

I am not sure, if Messner agrees, but Mr. Luger has a point – how individual ever we travel, we are always travelers. We influence people, society and business just because we visit. If you are looking at the history of Tourism in the Alpes, it all began with British upper class people, who discovered the mountains as a place which was not really explored, and where adventures were possible. The local community in the Mountain valleys struggled to survive with small farms and never thought about climbing Mountains for fun. This all changed with these English pioneers – they wanted someone to help them, with their backpacks and luggage, they needed food and some places to sleep. From this point it all developed – Mountain Guiding got a profession and the natives Mountain Guides started to discover their mountains themselves. Hotels and Restaurants were developed – today most mountain valleys in Austria (and Switzerland) would be almost deserted without Tourism and its income opportunities.

At the moment something similar develops in the Himalayas. I believe we cannot prohibit that development, because some extreme Alpinists, want to be alone on “their mountains”. After all most of this extreme climbers do this as a profession – and with writing books and making films about this areas, they create a demand for it.

What is important for this regions, and what should be closely examined, is the way how to develop tourism. Mountain Tourism in the Alpes made a lot of good and a lot of bad decisions – this are valuable lessons to be learned from.

P.S.: Reinhold Messner himself bought a castle in his home region of Southern Tyrol (Italy) – today it can be visited by tourists … great place to visit – Schloss Juval. It shows artifacts from Tibet, Messners expedition material and is also very interesting for Architecture fans, as it has got a glass ceiling over some parts, to use it for events. Reinhold Messner lives there, part time, and it is part of the “Messner Mountain Museum” featuring the “Myth of the Mountains” exhibition.

Additionally there is the Messner Mountain Museum in Castle Sigmundskron – I have missed this so far, but it is on top of my list for my next visit to Southern Tyrol!

Some impressions from Schloss Juval.

Schloss Juval - with modern Glass CeilingSchloss Juvalinside Juval

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