Diversity should more than ever characterise tourism development in the Alpine region. Those who succeed in recognising the strengths of their own region and deriving innovative and authentic offers from them create a distinction from other destinations. An undisputed strength of the Alps is the unique natural and cultural landscape - waterfalls, dense forests, pure mountain air, alpine meadows full of flowers and herbs, and much more. Promoting their beauty is a strategy, recognising their healing powers and developing health tourism offers from them is a successful strategy.
Topics such as health and well-being, strengthening of the immune system, healthy lifestyle are in vogue - and not just since COVID-19. In addition, we live in times of civilisation diseases such as stress, noise and stimulus satiation and lack of exercise, which have their origin in an increasingly urban lifestyle. It can be assumed that these tendencies will intensify even more in the coming years, so that the concentration on the target group of health seekers is a future-oriented decision for alpine destinations. But how can municipalities and regions approach this path?
"Humanity is a part of nature
and not something that contradicts it!"
The network of municipalities is working on precisely this issue in the HEALPS 2 project with 10 partners from the entire Alpine region. Among them is the Paracelsus Medical Private University in Salzburg (PMU) as lead partner, which has been conducting research in the field of ecomedicine for many years in order to prove the healing power of the Alps with clinical studies. It is thanks to this research that there is actually medical evidence of its effect as an antidepressant for the good feeling after an extended hike or that the Krimml Waterfalls are considered a state-approved healing resource for asthma.
Together with pilot regions from all over the Alpine region, HEALPS 2 will develop a planning instrument to analyse and evaluate regions. The focus is on identifying the existing natural healing resources. Finally, the process ends with various future scenarios for health tourism marketing. The instrument also contains a compilation of helpful information for interested regions, e.g. how to get from the healing resource to a health tourism product. This model supports long-term, strategic planning in regions. Alliance in the Alps is testing the instrument in three pilot regions and working with regional stakeholders on their strategy. All materials will be available in the four main Alpine languages at the end of the project.
In addition to the direct work in and with the pilot regions, an Alpine Health Tourism Network is being developed and established. It is intended to bring together interested destinations, regions, municipalities and stakeholders, to exchange information in regular meetings and to further advance the topic. In addition, recommendations for action will be drawn up for the political levels in order to anchor the topic of sustainable health tourism in national and international strategies.
For further information: https://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/healps-2/en/home
Recommended reading: Hartl, Arnulf; Geyer, Christina: Heilkraft der Alpen; 2020
HEALPS2 lasts from October 2019 to June 2022 and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme (Total budget: 2.169.952,65€ - ERDF grant: 1.844.459,74€).