The 900 m long circular trail with suspension bridge and viewing platform on the Hochkar is a haven of peace and center of action at the same time.
Photo: L. Fahrnberger
Summer in the mountains

WKÖ

Mountain summer in the Alps scores with the experience factor

According to the findings of the Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars quality initiative, sustainability is a must when it comes to creating experience value in summer mountain tourism in the Alps.

In May of this year, the majority of the Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars resumed operations for the summer season. As indicated last year already, summer in the mountains is now the trend. Diverse mountain experiences are again attracting domestic visitors to Austria’s vacation regions, and the international clientele is also back. For this year, the members of the Austrian cable car quality initiative are anticipating a very good summer season.

Holiday-makers looking for variety in the mountain experience

The Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars have made a highly motivated start to the season. As a snap survey among the members of the quality label group shows, visitors are longing for activity and variety in the natural environment. “The key to success is diversity in the mountain experience,” says Kornel Grundner, spokesman for the Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars. “The goal must be to optimize the experience factor for visitors. The cable cars are much more than just a ride up the mountain.” For visitors, the Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars is a quality label to be trusted: The certified installations are their guarantee of varied pleasures on the mountain in summer.

The nature experience and adventure on the mountain

The popular offerings are all about adventure and entertainment on the mountain. “Mountain biking, for example, continues to be a perennial favorite. Visitors are looking for an action-packed mountain experience, whether off-road, on e-bikes or on mountain carts,” says Grundner. Family attractions are also in great demand, the snap survey shows: Child-friendly activities such as theme parks, fun parks and water playgrounds provide children with a playful introduction to nature and the mountain world.

For many visitors, and especially for the regulars, mountain hiking and walking continue to be a main vacation activity. But here, too, the pattern of demand is changing: As the growing popularity of Hiking 2.0 shows, the experience factor is becoming increasingly important for adults as well. Hiking trails with digital support, for example in the form of apps or augmented reality, are becoming increasingly popular.

Quality initiative makes sustainability a must

In order to develop the full potential of summer mountain tourism, however, and also to attract newcomers to the mountains, additional attractions have to be developed on an ongoing basis. The key is to create products and services that are future-oriented and at the same time have a focus on sustainability in the mountain environment. “As an industry, we see it as our responsibility to create mountain experiences that are in harmony with the needs of nature, the environment and the region. This means that we must play an active role in addressing the issue of sustainability,” says Grundner. Sustainable programs have long since become a criterion for many visitors when making their vacation choices and are a meaningful issue for employees and visitors alike.

For the ropeway industry, sustainability means implementing measures with equal regard for their economic, ecological and social aspects. “If we take our role as a quality initiative seriously, the issue of sustainability must also be reflected in our certification and recertification processes,” Grundner adds. To this end, the 160 basic criteria to be met for the quality label are being expanded to include such aspects as nature conservation and environmental protection, and energy and resource efficiency. In a second step, a survey currently being conducted among members on the sustainability measures they have adopted will provide information on the status quo in the industry. The results will be used to derive future recommendations for action and information materials for cable cars with summer operations.

World-leading success story

For over 20 years, the quality initiative launched by the Cable Car group in the Austrian Chamber of Trade and Industry has been operated with the aim of strengthening mountain tourism in summer. “The Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars now have 76 associated installations and 91 themed mountains,” says a proud Franz Hörl, chairman of the group. For Hörl, the recipe for success with the initiative is primarily a combination of the highest standards of quality, product diversification and the targeted implementation of developing trends. A common spirit of commitment and cooperation, and knowledge sharing between members to promote mountain tourism in summer have made Austria a popular vacation destination in summer as well as winter. “For visitors, the sheer variety of activities apart from skiing in winter generates increased added value and an enhanced image, while employees can be offered year-round jobs, and regional tourism and hospitality partners benefit from the power of attraction that the cable cars have for their respective regions in the summer as well,” say Hörl and Grundner in conclusion.

Photo: K. König / Saalfelden Leogang Touristik
The Epic Bikepark in Leogang has the right terrain for every level of ability.
Photo: K. König / Saalfelden Leogang Touristik

Best Austrian Summer Cable Cars

  • Quality label created by the Cable Car group in the Austrian Chamber of Trade and Industry
  • 76 members in 7 regions of Austria
  • Nature experience on the mountain with specific themes: adventure, family, panorama & nature, enjoyment, art & culture
  • 160 quality criteria to be met by the cable car operators
  • Recertification procedure every three years
  • Innovative attractions with a guaranteed mountain experience
  • Leisure activities with a focus on safety
  • List of certified operators: www.sommer-bergbahnen.at

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