Shared by: sofikozma
Low Impact Tourism in the Alps – the Example of the DAV’s1 “Karwendel Tour” The Alps not only are the world’s largest skiing area; also during the summer season they are the destination of countless hikers, mountain climbers or mountain bikers. However, it is obvious that mass tourism has grave effects on nature and the environment. Thus, the primary objective of Alpine Awareness is to raise levels of awareness of low-impact tourism: targeted environmental education aims at sensitizing the youth for sustainable mobility. On the other hand, employees in the tourism sector are to be sensitized to issues concerning environmental protection through especially developed training programmes with the aim of enabling them to persuade tourists to embrace low-impact concepts and offers, which are available locally. One such offer is the DAV’s “Karwendeltour” (see: http://www.karwendeltour.de). According to the DAV, “alpine aficionados” can thereby book a 4-day hiking package; by train and bus they will be sustainably conveyed directly to the core of the Alpine Park Karwendel. Apart from the magnificent mountains (“There is no experience of the mountains like this”), tourists receive detailed descriptions of the tours; accommodation in mountain lodges is also provided, including half-board and lunch packs for the hikes.. The Department of Sociology of the Technical University, Munich, in collaboration with the DAV, carried out surveys among visitors of the Karwendel Park; the objective was not restricted to learn about experiences made with this special offer; rather, we were interested in learning more about the general motives for spending one’s vacations or leisure time; as well as to inquire into the reasons for choosing public or private transportation in reaching one’s destination. For this reason, in the first phase of the study in summer, 2005, more than 20 visitors to the Karwendel Park were questioned on their vacation habits and their choice of transportation by trained interviewers, using the extended depth interviewing technique. The results were impressive descriptions of rather multi-faceted personal motivations for spending one’s vacations in the mountains – and not by the sea or in an urban metropolis. On the other hand, the differences in choice of transportation were remarkable. These differences seemed to be linked to the motivations for spending one’s vacations, but also to the age, marital status or the level of education of the respondents. To arrive at statistically robust results, a standardised questionnaire was developed, based on the results of the EDIs; this questionnaire was sent into the field in autumn, 2005. Approximately 400 visitors were interviewed over the course of several days as well as at various stations along the Karwendel Tour (Falkenhütte, Alpengasthof Eng, Binsalm and on trains of the Bayerische Oberlandbahn). What is important to respondents in reaching their destination in the mountains? Is it good train connections, do they want to arrive quickly; or are they concerned about carrying as much luggage as possible or about reaching their destination without a great deal of planning? We inquired after a total of 19 such rationales. And we obtained 3 types of respondents. The first type is primarily motivated by “independence;” e.g. “taking one’s time” or “not to be constricted by itineraries;” in contrast, Type 2 has more pragmatic motives. “Low cost in reaching one’s destination,” “not to have lengthy stopovers” and “to get there quickly.” Finally, Type 3 appreciates “service“ aspects: “good train connections,” “to get there 1 DAV: Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alpine Society) without a car,” “not having to drive oneself,” and reaching one’s destination in an “environmentally sustainable way” and at a “leisurely pace.” The service aspects were more important to our female respondents than to the male ones; expectedly, they also become more important with advancing age. Among the employed or among respondents travelling with family, service seems to be less relevance. Both groups, more than others, are fixated on the automobile; in regard to low- impact mobility, both groups would need to be targeted by further persuasive campaigns or improved sustainable offers for travelling into the mountains would need to be created. This is especially true for the combination of the following demographic traits: younger, employed, family man. This type has been identified by this study as a real challenge for environmental education. Interestingly, members of the DAV lay less emphasis on independence aspects in travelling; i.e. among this group, the private vehicle appears to be actually of lesser importance. Nonetheless, the service aspects, with their emphasis on environmentally friendly travel, appear not well established. Thus, even the members of the DAV - which especially promotes the protection of nature and the environment - are among those, among whom the society would need to further promote its very own objectives. The choice of certain modes of transportation, remarkably, is also linked to the key motivations for spending one’s vacations or leisure time. 32 motivations were proffered for evaluation. Was it important to the respondents to “bask in the sun,” to “experience something new,” to “enjoy good food,” or “to do something for one’s health?” The analysis of responses resulted in four clusters of motivations. Type 1 displays a strong, rather joyful interest in novelty and culture: “furthering one’s education,” “experiencing something new,” “meeting people,” or “enjoying good food” are of equal importance. The second type is constituted mainly by nature lovers: “enjoying nature,” “experiencing unspoilt nature,” “relishing the euphoria of having made it to the top of the mountain,” etc. The third type is mainly seeking relaxation: “to calm down,” to “really relax,” or to “be oneself.” Finally, there are the sports enthusiasts, who seek the “challenge in sports” and want to “exert themselves physically.” Members of the DAV emphasise the areas of nature and sports; they are less inclined to confront something new or different or to experience culture. Respondents, who were travelling with family were likewise more interested in experiencing nature; other motivations were just about at average levels. Women show above average interest in everything but sports. By the same token, older respondents show little interest in sports. Sports appear to be the domain of younger, mainly male employees; together with kindred spirits, they seek the physical challenge. However, as demonstrated above, they appear less than willing to do without their motor vehicles for travelling. This lack of readiness to use public transport to travel into the mountains is not restricted to this predominantly male group. Especially those, who are interested in novel experiences or cultural things, indicated that they “usually” travel into the mountains by means of their private cars. It is interesting to note that the underlying, rather hedonistic motivations are not linked to higher levels of education. In the obverse: less educated respondents appear more inclined to “experience something new,” to “be pampered,” or to “further one’s education.” This might make one hopeful about the prospects of environmental education, if it were possible to associate the idea of sustainability with novelty and pleasure, so that the aforementioned target group could be persuaded to “usually” embark on a new adventure tour (with educational, pleasure and wellness modules) on a more than attractive DAV bus – if such an offer were made. Thus, the findings of this survey suggest a target group specific mix of measures, whereby it will be important not only to promise additional benefits of low-impact tourism to the respective target groups, but to actually deliver on these promises. Sustainability needs to be put into action. Furthermore, one will need to reflect on why it is especially among members of the DAV that low impact behavioural patterns are not expressed more strongly. Therefore, further inquiries into motivations will be required. In the consecutive phase of the study we will further explore options for remedying this situation.