Development of a coordinated vision for climate-neutral and climate-resilient Alpine tourism (incl. alignment of financing streams)

Basic information:

Alpine tourism destinations have interactions on different levels and several of them already coordinate their offers and marketing activities to attract specific target groups. Due to the close distance between tourism destinations and the multiple destinations with comparable facilities and offers, there might be partly unwanted distributional effects between tourism regions if they do not align their strategies and take different approaches on tourism development (intensive vs. sustainable/extensive offers).

Tourism is one of the main sources of income in the Alps. Some 40% of the Alpine municipalities display significant tourism activities. However, tourism as cross-cutting economic activity faces several challenges related to climate change (mitigation and adaptation needs) but also to meet other environmental, social and economic objectives. The Alpine Convention has already worked intensively on the promotion of sustainable tourism, but additional efforts are needed to meet the objectives of climate proofing Alpine tourism.

As tourism destinations already start i) to align their offers to new tourism demand for low-carbon vacations as well as to new regulations regarding energy and climate legislation in their respective national and regional frameworks and ii) to diversify their offers to adapt to climate change impacts, a stronger coordination of strategies and tools seems necessary. Aims are: i) avoiding unwanted distributional affects between tourism destinations that could arise from different approaches on developing climate-friendly and climate-neutral tourism offers, ii) ensuring that the carrying capacity of specific tourism sites is not overstressed, taking into account potential impacts of climate change and iii) optimizing overall development of tourism activities in a qualitative way under the precondition of decarbonisation. This includes a coordination of strategic approaches towards development of climate-neutral and climate-resilient tourism offers, climate goals/targets as well as financial aspects related to tourism development (and other incentive measures) as well as monitoring & reporting issues.

Sequence of implementation steps:

Based on a synthesis of existing best practice collections on climate-friendly and climate-resilient tourism and a targeted review of new and innovative solutions, a list of success factors for implementation of climate-friendly and climate-resilient Alpine tourism will be developed. This should also take into account a status-quo analysis of tourism demand and specific tourism needs regarding climate-friendly Alpine tourism.

These success factors (derived from tourism supply and demand analysis) will be transposed into potential indicators to measure the transformation of Alpine tourism, a basis for further steps within this pathway.

At the same time, some data gaps on CC impacts on Alpine tourism need to be filled to ensure a broad and science-based information basis for the strategic activities. Especially, the following gaps have been identified:

  • More detailed information on climate change impacts, with data resolved to the local level, on tourism in the Alps (transposing “hard” scientific facts into economic and social impacts on regional/local level)
  • Exploring potential ambivalent effects: vulnerabilities of different Alpine tourism types to CC impacts (i.e. are climate-friendly tourism destinations more vulnerable to CC impacts than tourism destinations without a specific focus on climate aspects? intensive tourism offers?)
  • Filling data gaps regarding information on tourism demand: tourists motivation as well as touristic distribution patterns and behaviour, linked to climate change and environmental factors.

Findings from these exercises should be disseminated to relevant stakeholders to ensure that they are considered in further planning processes (e.g., dissemination via information hub).

Based on this broad knowledge on impacts and success factors, a broad strategic coordination process at Alpine level will be launched to better coordinate the transformation of tourism destinations (participation of regional and local authorities as identified in the frame of the Transport Protocol, Art. 4).

This coordination process has to build on needs of the tourism sector to find acceptance in the market. It thus has to build on a broad stakeholder participation and will include the following elements (based on guidelines already identified in the Tourism Protocol, Art. 6):

  • Delimitation of areas/tourism destinations that further develop intensive tourism offers vs. areas/destinations that focus on soft and sustainable tourism: exchange on good practices and recommendations on approaches which are replicable in other Alpine tourism destinations.
  • Definition of “carrying capacities” for tourism hot-spots and tools to steer tourism demand in these areas (linked to preservation objectives and enhancement of resilience)
  • Coordination of further development of specific tourism offers à joint destination marketing, with clear focus on climate-friendly and climate-resilient tourism offers

Definition of a common set of specific CO2-reduction targets as well as climate-resilience targets for Alpine tourism, if possible defined at level of tourism destinations

A discussion of financing streams and incentive programmes for sustainable and climate-friendly tourism development will be launched:

  • Assessment of status-quo: analysis of existing subsidies/financial support to different tourism segments

Discuss options on how to better align these funding streams to the success factors and indicators as defined in step 1b and the strategic approach as defined in step 2a

Taking into account the results of step 2a, especially the set of goals/targets, a climate-reporting framework for Alpine tourism destinations will be developed. This framework takes into account methodological approaches of other indicator systems (e.g., UNWTO Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories[1]) and defines the reporting needs and methods for tourism destinations as well as the further monitoring process (beyond 2030).


Further Information:

This pathway needs a broad involvement of experts of existing networks and stakeholder of tourism in the Alps (“big players”, testimonials of different sectors like hotels/gastronomy, public transport, specific tourism offers etc.). Further:

  • National and regional administrations and bodies involved in tourism development (including representatives from strategic development as well as marketing)
  • Representatives/stakeholders of tourism destinations
  • NGOs involved in promoting sustainable tourism (CIPRA, Alpenvereine, ALPARC e.g.,)
  • Meteorological services
  • Set-up of an Alpine strategy on coordinated climate-neutral and climate-resilient tourism
  • Alignment of financing streams (from intensive tourism which does not take into account climate mitigation and adaptation needs towards sustainable, climate-friendly and climate-resilient tourism)
  • Set-up of a reporting framework for tourism destinations on sustainable tourism
  • Step 1: Qualitative description of achieved results
  • Step 2a: Number and classification of tourism destinations that participate in the coordination process (classification: e.g., including data on surface, inhabitants, number of tourism beds, overnight stays and number of arrivals/year (summer/winter)
  • Step 2b: Qualitative description on discussion process
  • Step 3: Qualitative description of reporting framework. Number of destinations which agree to participate in the reporting
  • RSA4 “Sustainable Tourism in the Alps – Report on the State of the Alps” (2013)
  • Report of the WG Sustainable Tourism (2016)
  • “Mobility solutions in the Alps” database (2015)
  • Initiatives of NGOs (“… einfach schön” of Alpenvereine Deutschland, Österreich, Südtirol)




Tourism is one of the main sources of income in the Alps, 40% of the Alpine municipalities display significant tourism activities. In addition to other environmental, social and economic objectives, tourism destinations face the challenge to align their offers to new tourism demand for low-carbon vacations and to meet new energy and climate regulations. This transformation also has to consider potential impacts from climate change on tourism and requires smart diversification strategies. To meet these multiple challenges, a stronger coordination of tourism strategies and planning tools seems necessary.