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Can sustainable tourism work? Exploring successful implementations in Austria and Switzerland

Merilyn Tammaru

Is sustainable tourism possible? Examples from Austria and Switzerland

Daniela Nothdurfter's insights on sustainable tourism

Drawing from over a decade of experience and academic research, Daniela explores how various regions and companies are implementing sustainable tourism practices in Austria and Switzerland, sustainable mobility initiatives, the role of socially responsible sports retailers, and the impact of travel agencies working closely with local populations.

Setting the Stage for Sustainable Tourism

I have been working in the tourism industry for 13 years and I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on sustainable tourism. Below you can find some examples of how regions or companies implement sustainable measures. The examples include tourist destinations in Austria and Switzerland, a sports retailer and tour operators. The EU (2011), the Austrian Tourist Board, and the destination Flims Laax Falera in Switzerland recommend a strategic anchoring of CSR: “It takes more than goodwill to run an Alpine destination sustainably. It takes a strategy, a considerable amount of lead time and the change itself” (Weisse Arena Gruppe, 2022, p. 24).

A pioneering alpine region: Films Laax Falera in Switzerland

The Greenstyle book and its impact

Films Laax Falera boasts a unique corporate structure with a ski resort, hotels, restaurants, and other infrastructure. The region aims to transition from being an energy consumer to a producer and is far ahead in terms of sustainability marketing. Their sustainability strategy, Greenstyle, includes a book with guidelines for sustainable Alpine destinations, published to mark its tenth anniversary. This flagship region in Switzerland suggests that sustainability is increasingly decisive for bookings and that transparent and credible communication is key. They propose friendly and engaging CSR information, focusing on fun and ensuring information is “never given with a raised index finger”.

According to ETH Zurich, April 3, 2056, will be the last day of the advanced glacier above Laax if nothing is done to stop the glacier from melting. By purchasing the ‘Last Day Pass,’ a handmade and CO2-neutral wooden pass from the region, guests are supporting the rescue operation for the glacier. After the first week, the campaign had already offset 291,000 kilos of CO2. The project also received international awards, such as the New York Advertising Award in bronze in the ‘Brand Design’ category.

Laax, Switzerland

Sustainable mobility in Zell am See-Kaprun

In addition to direct train connections from Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, or even Copenhagen, the measures taken by the cable car companies and the Austrian Ecolabel for businesses, the Zell am See-Kaprun tourist region offers the mobility card to overnight guests in summer. Holidays should be as comfortable and relaxed as possible - and protect the environment at the same time. That's why the Pinzgau Mobility Card is available in the region from May until October. With this card, guests can travel free of charge on public transport, from the train to the Postbus to the Pinzgau local railway.

Zell am See, Austria

Other sustainable tourist destinations in Austria

Further tourist destinations in Austria are committed to sustainable tourism. Saalfelden Leogang in the Salzburg region offers a climate hike in summer. The aim is to impart knowledge on these topics and show the visible effects of the climate crisis, creating an understanding of our future challenges.

Another example is the region Seefeld in Tyrol. Guests traveling to this region in Tyrol by train or FlixBus receive up to €150.00 back in travel costs per person. The ‘Free trip to vacation happiness’ campaign is already a complete success, and the budget pot has already been used up. Everyone who took part in the campaign will get their travel costs reimbursed up to a total of €150.00 for their stay in the region by November 30.

A sports retailer with a social focus: Bründl Sports

The sports retailer with 31 stores in Austria and headquarters in Kaprun (Salzburg) has drawn up a comprehensive sustainability concept and is implementing measures in the social, ecological, and economic areas. The focus is on the social area with its own Bründl Sports Academy for employees, the B-Green and B-Equal team, and “Do-it-with-me” campaigns such as Christmas in a Shoebox or the Wings for Life Run.

Sustainable travel agencies: WeDesignTrips and Weltweitwandern

At WeDesignTrips, the focus is on the experts in the respective vacation countries and cooperation with the local population. Guests are advised directly by the experts in the vacation destinations. In addition to the partner sustainability program and the local guides, Weltweitwandern has founded the independent association ‘Weltweitwandern Wirkt!’ This association effectively and successfully implements international projects in the educational and social sectors, as well as emergency aid projects, such as educational projects in Nepal or Morocco.

The importance of CSR in sustainable tourism

In conclusion, anchoring corporate social responsibility at all levels of the company and authenticity are paramount. As Edinger-Schons et al. (2019, p. 370) aptly put it: ‘[...] companies that want to successfully communicate their good deeds to their external stakeholders should anchor their CSR in the corporate DNA and ensure that it permeates all levels of management and is perceived as an authentic attempt to act in a socially responsible manner.’

Inspiring Future Leaders at Tomorrow University

By examining successful examples from regions and companies committed to sustainable practices, we can see the potential for positive change in the industry. Our programs, such as the Impact MBA in sustainable business transformation, Bachelor's degree in Responsible Entrepreneurship, and various 3-month Impact Certificates equip our learners with the necessary skills to advocate our students with the tools, skills, and network to drive sustainability in tourism and beyond.


Edinger-Schons, L. M., Lengler-Graiff, L., Scheidler, S., & Wieseke, J. (2019). Frontline

Employees as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Ambassadors. A Quasi-Field Experiment. Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 359–373.

Europäische Union. (2011). Eine neue EU-Strategie (2011–14) für die soziale

Verantwortung der Unternehmen (CSR).

Österreich Werbung. (2023a). KPI-Toolkit-Webinar für Destinationen. Zur strategischen

Verankerung und Messbarkeit von Nachhaltigkeit.

Weisse Arena Gruppe. (2022). Greenstyle Book. How to run a sustainable alpine


Flims Laax Falera – The Last Day Pass:

More photos Flims Laax Falera:

Zell am See-Kaprun in summer:


Merilyn Tammaru
Merilyn Tammaru

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