250 guests, twelve speakers from five countries, a common vision: last October Bad Hofgastein was the venue for the fourth international symposium Healing Power of the Alps, this year for the first time spanning the Alps. The topic: How to use the healing power of the Alps to redefine sustainable tourism. Representatives of international initiatives from across the Alpine region met in Bad Hofgastein to discuss this new approach to tourism. “The overall goal is to position the Alpine region as a globally attractive health destination with a vibrant regional economy, especially after the pandemic,” said Salzburg State Minister Daniela Gutschi at the opening of the symposium. She continued, “The wealth of the Alpine region lies in its healing power.”
Since the times of the Roman empire, thermal waters being one of the Alpine healing resources have been used and recommended for nurturing body and soul. Nowadays an ever-increasing part of the population is interested in innovative touristic services for health and wellbeing, for keeping themselves vital and active. The Private Medical University Paracelsus of Salzburg is a forerunner regarding evidence-based research on different Alpine healing resources such as waterfalls, microbioma or dairy products. For example, Asthma in patients could be significantly reduced after repeated stays close to specific waterfalls. Moreover, clinical studies found a positive correlation between a holiday stay in the Alps and the relationship quality for couples aged between 50 and 65 years. These are just some concrete findings which hold substantial potential for Alpine regions to unfold their hidden healing power and developing new touristic products. In this sense even remote regions suffering from brain drain and low economic power might be able to develop new local value chains, valorizing their region and leading to vital businesses while promoting also resilience of Alpine resources and the soundness of ecological systems.
Top-class speakers such as Prof. Dr. Christian Baumgartner and Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach and former EU Agriculture Commissioner provided interesting insights on the development of tourism in the Alps and the different notions associated to sustainable development. Several stakeholder workshops on different topics such as agriculture and farms, forests under guidance of Prof. Robert Lymann, Julia Saller, Dr. Michael Bischof and many others allowed for discussion and in-depth exchange in smaller groups.
“Healing Power of the Alps” was part of a series of events in the framework of the Alpine Convention dedicated to sustainable Alpine tourism and was organised in cooperation with ArgeAlp. More information can be found on the official website: https://healing-alps.eu
PHOTO: © Agentur Salic David Wedenig