Birgit Adelsberger

Vindobona Blog

Austria Wants to Be One of the Most Sustainable Destinations in the World

More+More+ ♦ Published: October 8, 2023; 20:07 ♦ (Vindobona)

The extent to which the issue of climate change now affects all areas of our lives was also evident at this year's Expo Real in Munich.

Inge Huijbrechts, Glenn Mandziuk, Susanne Kraus-Winkler, Frank Tetzel at Expo Real Munich. / Picture: © / Birgit Adelsberger

The tourism industry is also responding to this development. "Greece has introduced a Chief Heat Manager," says Sophie Herrmann (Partner, Systemiq Transformation Consulting, Germany), referring to a UNEP study: 25% of financial institutions surveyed by UNEP would divest from or choose not to invest in real estate properties with insufficient climate risk profile.

The panel discussion moderated by Maria Puetz-Willems (Editor-in-Chief, Germany) follows a unified tenor: the tourism industry is working on a sustainable offer and has already accomplished a lot in this field.

Peter Krueger (Executive Board Member, Chief Strategy Officer & M&A, CEO Holiday Experiences, TUI Group (Hotels), London) sees sustainability as an opportunity and at the same time refers to the need to respond to the demand of customers who continue to prefer vacations in southern destinations and do not really accept CO2 neutral hotels operated by TUI in Austria, for example.

Kraus-Winkler (Austrian State Secretary for Tourism at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Economic Affairs) agrees, noting on the one hand an incredible tourism bashing, while the population's desire to travel remains unchecked.

Mrs. Kraus-Winkler points out that Austria is one of the most sustainable ski destinations. There has been an extremely high level of investment in state of the art-technology in this area in recent years and a high proportion of the energy used for the lifts is renewable. She sees two roles in tourism: guests can be confident that they will be offered a safe vacation. This also means safety with regard to potential extreme weather events. At the same time, the tourism industry must participate in minimizing the influences that change the climate.

Austria applies a 4-pillar strategy in the area of sustainability in tourism, explains Susanne Kraus-Winkler:

  • The government support will be linked to the fulfillment of sustainability criteria.
  • a certification strategy against greenwashing
  • regular measurement of tourism acceptance among the population
  • Approval of financing depending on the fulfillment of ESG standards

Major companies make a unified commitment to sustainability in the industry at Expo Real 2023. Inge Huijbrechts (Global Senior VP Sustainability, Security and Corporate Communication, Radisson Hotel Group, Belgium) confirms Radisson Hotel Group's intention to continue to invest faster and even more for this purpose and to reduce emissions. Glenn Mandziuk (CEO, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), London) is convinced that the industry must commit to credibly communicate to outsiders that sustainability in tourism is taken seriously.

At this point, Susanne Kraus Winkler stands up for the many Austrian small and medium-sized enterprises in the hotel industry and affirms the need to support them both financially and with know-how on their way to even more sustainability. Mrs. Kraus-Winkler received great approval from all those present when she concluded by emphasizing that more communication is needed. Not only for countries like Austria, which are very committed to sustainability but often do not communicate it sufficiently to the outside world - also internationally there is a great need for all stakeholders to exchange and support each other in a structured and goal-oriented way via a suitable platform.

Birgit Adelsberger