Post 11 – Alpine Pearls: Environmental Friendliness, Mobility and Accessibility

  • About Alpine Pearls*

In pursuit of climate-friendly travel packages, a way to stop the heavy traffic toward the Alps during holiday season and a car-free holiday without sacrificing the quality of a holiday experience, the Alpine Pearls came into shape in 2006 and now it is active within the entire Alpine region that involves 27 communities from six countries to offer a sustainable holiday with soft mobility, which is defined as “getting around in sustainable, climate-friendly and environmentally sound ways… (and)…enjoying your vacation activities without using your car”. According to the Alpine Pearl official website, all communities are in strict accordance with its “soft tourism” aim:

  1. They are easily accessible by train and bus or can be reached effortlessly without a car.
  2. They invest in alternative energies and development of new mobile transport, e.g. electric vehicles.
  3. They are far from traffic noise and exhaust fumes and are thus hikers / walkers friendly.
  4. They respect cultural diversity and different culinary traditions.
  5. They are taking firm stand in supporting ecotourism
  6. They provide excellent services to visitors.

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There are several key features that distinguish Alpine Pearls from the others on the market: relaxing travel & arrival, easy getting around/within destinations and pure joy in motion. And their constant effort and commitment led to the winning of the internationally renowned “Tourism for Tomorrow Award” in Las Vegas in 2011. Already it has been able to attract 2.5 million guests per year and more than 12 million overnight stays.

  • Analysis of Holiday Package 1: Trekking Paradise in Hinterstoder, Austria

Take a break and regenerate: Tourists arrive by train and the all-inclusive package also include the transfer to their preferred hotel and back. They can enjoy 3 or 4 nights in the trekking paradise Höss by staying either in a chalet, an apartment or a cottage on site. The package also offer a ‘Pyhrn-Priel-Aktiv Card’ that enable tourists to use public transport vehicles within the whole region Pyhrn-Priel as well as free usage of the mountain railway Hinterstoder-Wurzeralm. It also allows electro-car owners to use all electric pumps in Hinterstoder and the whole Region Pyhrn-Priel for free. What’s more, it also provides free rent of e-bikes for one day for people who stay 3 overnights or more.

 Pfarrkirche-kreuzerhoehung-hinterstoder-austria-1The protected monument with the number 58599 in Austria by Florian König (permission: CC-BY-SA-3.0).

I think packages like this will encourage people to stay within the destination and relax more. More importantly, it is in accordance with the very essence of a recently emerging market — slow tourism. It encourages the tourists to get in touch with the local culture (by dining and interacting with the local communities), relax and have a vacation at a slower but preferred speed without leaving behind a heavy ecological footprint.

  • Analysis of Holiday Package 2: A variety of activities for the whole family in Les Gets, France

This is a package for the whole family that involves 7 nights in a holiday apartment. Guests are expected to arrive by cars and get off at the Cluses train station where they will be picked up by a shuttle bus and go to their accommodation. Tourists, if willing, can hand over the car keys to the AP if they can do without it for at least 4 days and receive two 6-day multi-pass for free. Within the destination, there are a variety of soft mobile means and value offers.  The Ballad’Aulps Bus connects numerous localities in the area of Portes du Soleil and Free Shuttle Service between the centre of Les Gets and its hamlets is also available. Tourist train can take tourists on a sightseeing trip of the town centre of Les Gets and use of the mountain railways/hiking trails Les Gets are free as well.

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Sunset off the Lapin Rouge cabin, Les Gets, France by Cory Doctorow.

  • Analysis of Holiday Package 3: Relax at the SPA & Family Resort Rupertus Therme

A place that offers sustainable tourism and appealing holiday: Arrive by train at the Bad Reichenhall main station. Highlights of a stay include a stroll through the underground old salt works’ tunnel system (www.alte-saline- bad-reichenhall.de), the Salt Time Journey in the adventure salt mines of Berchtesgaden (www.salzzeitreise.de), a trip to Europe’s one and only curative salt gallery (www.salzheilstollen.com), wellness facilities at the Rupertus Therme (www.rupertustherme) and in the Watzmann Therme (www.watzmanntherme.de).

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Spa & Familien Resort Rupertus Therme. Retrieved from Berchtesgadener Land Blog.

  • Conclusion

The Alpine Pearls makes direct reference to environmental issues and it distinguishes them from the other tour operators and organisations. One possible reason is that they cater to tourists that have a will to escape the car-based lifestyles and explore the nature on foot, by bike or on horseback. In order to meet such expectations, AP managed to provide a variety of holiday packages that involve many sustainable mobility means and eco-friendly activities. The economic sustainability of the region relies much on the safe, healthy development of such “soft mobile” experiences. And the success of AP proves the possibility of addressing mobility issues in a friendly way — using public transportation means instead of cars.

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Extra: AP also gives a nice calculator for tourists to get hold of how much CO2 a holiday generates. Have a check HERE.

*UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE, ALL INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON THE ALPINE PEARLS WEBSITE (SEE REFERENCE) AND THE ALPINE PEARLS’ “SOFTLY MOBILE TRAVEL GUIDEBOOK”.

References:

Alpine Pearls. (2015). http://www.alpine-pearls.com/en/home.html

Alpine Pearls. (n.d.) Softly Mobile Travel around the Most Beautiful Alpine Regions. Retrieved from http://www.alpine-pearls.com/fileadmin/blaetterbuch/folder_en/

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