Werfenweng, as a destination, is well known among tourism and sustainability professionals, having won multiple awards for its ‘soft mobility’ concept. In October 2018, we had the opportunity to get to know the small village (1,000 inhabitants) near Salzburg in Austria and to experience its approach to climate-friendly tourism. But why the focus on soft mobility and climate-friendly travel? And how does this alpine village, at an altitude of 900 meters with breath-taking mountain scenery, succeed in rallying stakeholders together to pursue this shared vision?
During our visit, we caught up with Dr. Peter Brandauer, mayor of Werfenweng for almost 30 years and a staunch believer in innovation and responsible tourism. We also (earlier) met with Karmen Mentil, who has been consulting Werfenweng on its way towards soft mobility. In the interview, she tells us about the initiative Alpine Pearls, a network of small destinations across the European Alps – Werfenweng was among the first to join – dedicated to climate-friendly mobility and responsible tourism, one step at a time.
More about the SAMO strategy and Werfenweng as destination here.
How Werfenweng is championing responsible travel:
- Werfenweng facilitates carbon-free transport options across the destination and encourages travelers to explore on foot, horse-drawn carriages, electric vehicles, shuttle services, and trains.
- The SaMo-Card, a mobility-inclusive bonus card, offers guests and locals a large variety of mobility and leisure services. It has proven beneficial as there are fewer cars on the streets now, despite a substantial increase in visitor numbers.
- Werfenweng’s soft-mobility initiative offers goodies to its residents too. The WirSAMO bonus programme provides them with eco-friendly travel options at discounted rates, as an incentive to refrain them from using their cars.
- The soft-mobility initiative in Werfenweng sparked the creation of Alpine Pearls, a network of alpine communities promoting car-free and environmentally-friendly travelling in the European Alps.
- Establishing a dialogue with regional political leaders, businesses and the local population is key to initiate and sustain any destination sustainability projects.
Werfenweng’s sustainable tourism changemakers
Who is leading sustainability efforts in Werfenweng, making, and keeping it attractive as a tourist destination? Below are our interviews with some of the region’s responsible tourism champions and changemakers.
Dr. Peter Brandauer on soft tourism and smart mobility
Long-serving mayor of Werfenweng, Peter talks about the environmentally-friendly tourism development in the area and how the community offers visitors multiple climate-friendly transport options, to travel within the region. He also illustrates the positive impact that Werfenweng’s responsible tourism strategy is having on the climate and local community.
Karmen Mentil on Sustainable Mobility in the European Alps
Director of the Alpine Pearls network and a leading responsible tourism advisor in Austria, Karmen illustrates how green travel principles are taking hold in holiday destinations across the Swiss Alps. She also discusses how the popular weekend escapes to the mountains by city dwellers can have an adverse impact on the environment due to frequent travels back and forth, often by car.