VITALPIN: LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS

Hannes Parth, until recently on the board of the Silvretta Seilbahn AG (SSAG) cableway company, has launched a new project. It is focused on enabling tourism in the Alps to once again enjoy the status it deserves. For the people in the valleys, and for the tourists themselves.
Pooling different interests in tourism, giving cable car companies, hoteliers and restaurateurs, ski schools and tourism associations a common voice, and thereby achieving more together for tourism in the Alps: this is the point of the Vitalpin initiative, established in the past few weeks by former SSAG chairman Hannes Parth. In the course of his long career with the cableway company, Parth has realised just how important this is: “We have to try to create a better awareness of tourism amongst the people here. It is extremely urgent, because we’re seeing that it’s increasingly difficult for us to  implement projects.” Parth is referring specifically to issues such as the potential tie-up between the Kühtai and Hochötz ski areas. According to Parth, the main reason that there is so much opposition to it is because people are not properly informed. “You really do have to say that the media often don’t report on us in a positive light, they only use the information spread by our opponents. Sometimes it’s also because we haven’t drawn enough attention to ourselves.” The association already comprises 25 companies and larger ogranisations,  including cable car companies, hotel and gastronomy associations from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and South Tyrol, and also private landlords and the South Tyrolean Farmers’ Association, as well as large companies which are directly dependent on ski tourism, such as the cable car manufacturer Doppelmayer or the artificial snow equipment maker Technoalpin. Together, the companies now want to open up dialogue with other stakeholders, NGOs and politicians. Together, they want to “help shape future-oriented tourism concepts responsibly, but also clearly emphasize the importance of tourism as a source of livelihood for people in the Alps.”

Because tourism is the main source of  livelihood in many Alpine regions. Hannes Parth: “Of course it is important to protect nature, but we shouldn’t forget people, either. The Alps have been a cultural landscape for thousands of years, and we can’t take away people’s livelihoods.” He continues: “Many of these organizations which claim to represent the Alpine area are based in large urban areas where people from the cities work, and their members are also city people.” Vitalpin is now working to consolidate information from individual members and respond to centralized media, or provide a counterpoint to other organizations. “It’s definitely not an easy task. We are in competition with other leisure activity providers, people go cycling, the tourism destinations in the lakes are opening ever earlier, the discussion on climate change are intensifying everything. We have to really be careful here and safeguard our interests.”