The tourist pressure on the Alpine regions is growing and with it the endangerment of sensitive natural areas. The quality of life of the residents is suffering, at the same time tourism is an important branch of the economy. The Bund Naturschutz (BN) in Bavaria has now spoken out with a new position paper, which was presented on Thursday evening in front of around 70 listeners in the Kochler Heimatbühne: “From dream landscape to overexploited mountain area” is the title of this work.
In the round, moderated by mountain journalist Georg Bayerle, the Mayor of Koch and Deputy District Administrator Thomas Holz (CSU), the head of the Bavarian Center for Tourism, Professor Alfred Bauer, the tourism manager of the Zug-Spitz region, Philipp Holz, the mountain photographer, discussed Bernd Ritschel and BN district chairman Friedl Krönauer, who took over the presentation. The presentation of the problem took up a lot of space. 13.4 million people could reach the Bavarian Alps within two hours, explained Krönauer – and the number is rising.
For 2019, the statistics recorded around seven million overnight guests and around 90 million day visitors. Tourism experts created additional incentives through the expansion of cable cars, snow-making systems, bike parks and pleasure-alps. Digital route planners made it easier for the masses to access remote mountain regions, and social networks made the trend worse. “Insider tips become hotspots,” said Krönauer.
The Federal Nature Conservation Association sees possible solutions in five main demands: Tourism models should contain maximum numbers instead of just attracting more guests. State subsidy policy must be restructured. Ecologically harmful subsidies, such as snow-making systems or area bonuses for intensive agriculture, would have to be abolished. Roads should not be expanded any further and individual traffic should be restricted. Further development through paths and trails in the Alps, including for agriculture and forestry, must be stopped. Rules and regulations should be more clearly defined and enforced. In addition, a “zoning concept” could determine which outdoor sports are possible where and where not.
In the discussion that followed, it became clear that the digital excursion sticker, which has been available since this year, has great hopes. “The intention is for people to find out about the traffic and parking situation at home,” said Professor Bauer. It is questionable, however, to what extent people can be “redirected”. Incidentally, locals were also among the day trippers, “they are also part of the problem”. Investigations have shown: “Most of the traffic movements were within the region.” Bauer shared the BN’s request to limit the number of guests. If the quality of life of the locals and the recreational value are to be preserved, “we have to talk about maximum numbers,” said the head of the Bavarian Center for Tourism. Incidentally, it is not true that day-trippers bring in less money than vacationers.
Mayor Holz was able to confirm that: To 335 million euros gross turnover in the district through tourism, day-trippers contributed a good half, he said. Holz supported the BN’s proposal to give more support to tourist regions outside the Alps. What is needed is “an awareness that recreation is not only possible in the foothills of the Alps,” said Holz.
Tourism manager Philipp Holz confirmed that tourism is in conflict with nature conservation. But modern tourism takes a holistic approach. “We don’t want to build up every mountain, we want to preserve the landscape.” Audience member Andreas Wüstefeld, head of Tölzer Land Tourismus, expressed a similar opinion. “I don’t know any tourism expert who doesn’t focus on quality”. It is understandable that hoteliers and restaurateurs want “that the hut is full”. You have to recognize that tourism is an important branch of the economy, said Wüstefeld.
Friedl Krönauer spoke out against the pursuit of profit at the expense of nature and named the Zugspitzbahn as an example. New gondolas have been installed there and capacities have been increased. “Since then, Grainau has stood still,” said the BN district chairman. The solution proposed by the mayor there: a bypass road. There was agreement that local public transport had to be expanded.
But that is not the only solution, said mountain photographer Ritschel. “I watch 400 to 600 people a day get off the train and hike up to the sun peak.” Ecologically correct, but just too many. People are often attracted by excursion apps. Ritschel therefore suggested bringing social media providers on board. You should limit your excursion tips in terms of time and distribute them regionally. He advocated removing the “reproachful tone” when dealing with tourists and day trippers. Basically, more dialogue, more communication between the various actors is necessary – there was agreement on this on the podium.