Prices at petrol pumps currently provoke tears in the eyes of motorists. Being on four wheels becomes more expensive. Vehicles that use petrol or diesel while driving – and while e-cars are booming in Austria, the vast majority are still – are bad for the environment anyway. With the holiday season approaching, the idea of leaving your beloved car at home this time comes to mind, at least if the destination is in Austria.
Anyone who has already bought a nationwide climate ticket for professional reasons does not even incur additional costs for a trip to the mountains or to the lake. According to ÖBB, about 150,000 climate tickets have already been sold. And last but not least, “car-free” also means traffic-free and therefore stress-free.
Werfenweng pioneer area
Car-free vacations are nothing new. In recent years, local e-mobility offerings in particular have opened up new opportunities for tourism areas to position themselves as sustainable. In Austria, people have been eyeing Werfenweng for a long time, which committed itself to soft mobility and sustainable tourism as early as the 1990s.
The Pongau community of 1,000 people in Salzburg is one of 19 Alpine holiday resorts that advertise relaxing, car-free holidays. Driving is not forbidden in Werfenweng, Josef Holzmann, director of the local tourism association, confirms to “Wiener Zeitung”. Alternatively, the municipality offers vacationers a range of free transportation so that they can leave their car at the hotel, guesthouse or rent a private room for the duration of their stay.
Community bus drivers drive vacationers back and forth inside the village, and there are e-bikes for trekking in the mountains. Climate tickets are also available, with which you can travel through the federal state for a day and, for example, visit the city of Salzburg by train. You can also rent electronic cars, for example for a trip to Grossglockner.
A shuttle service to and from the train stations in Bischofshofen and Pfarrwerfen completes the offer. “You don’t have to travel by car,” Holzman says. It is estimated that 15 percent of vacationers come by train. “Many guests who have a car realize they don’t need it with us,” says the tourism director.
Soaring fuel and climate ticket prices may have an impact on more vacationers using the train to travel this year. “We’ll see,” Holzman says. Anyway, using a mouth and nose guard on a train doesn’t bother anyone anymore, I’m used to it.
The train station is located right in the center of Zell am See, which, together with the neighboring municipality of Kaprun, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Austria. In 2019, the Climate and Energy Model District (KEM) Zell am See / KaprunRegion submitted a public request for bids from the Climate and Energy Fund as a Climate and Energy Model District (KEM). Three of the nine participating destinations were selected to create another concept: Zell am See / Kaprun, Carnic and Ötztal. The first two are convinced of their concepts and are now supported by nearly €1 million each in the implementation of their projects.
Zell am See is directly accessible by public transport, and they are now trying to put local mobility on a sustainable footing, says KEM Director, Stefan Aubenus. A purely electric articulated bus travels between Zell am See and the valley station of the Kaprun Glacier Cable Car until the end of April. The pilot operation will become a normal operation in order to fill another gap in the offer of sustainable mobility in the region. The infrastructure for charging e-bikes has also been expanded through financing.
In the Carnic Alps climate model region, the focus is on regional food sovereignty (“Slow Food Travel”). But promoting car-free travel for holiday guests is also an important concern for tourism officials and the Karnik region’s union of municipalities, says Alexandra Risliger, Director of KEM: “All tourist destinations in the region should be comfortably and as conveniently accessible as possible with climate-friendly transportation.” “. The goal is to increase the proportion of vacationers traveling by public transport to between 7 percent and 15 percent, depending on the region.
If you are there on time and have not forgotten anything, your vacation can start on the train. But no one likes to carry bags and sports equipment to the train station, which is why most people still prefer to travel by car. ÖBB’s door-to-door baggage service, which can be used in conjunction with a valid train ticket to send holiday baggage, is “definitely a niche product,” according to the OBB press office. However, it is constantly booked by a smaller group. Shipping a piece of regular baggage within Austria and within a standard time window between 8am and 5pm costs €21, limiting the time to morning, afternoon or evening.
Ideally, the holidays should already begin on the train. But no one likes to carry bags and sports equipment to the train station, which is why most of them prefer to travel by car. ÖBB’s door-to-door baggage service, which can be used in conjunction with a valid train ticket to send holiday baggage, is “definitely a niche product,” says ÖBB’s press office upon request. However, it is constantly booked by a smaller group. Shipping a piece of regular baggage within Austria costs €21. Baggage will then be collected within a standard time period between 8am and 5pm. Limiting window time to morning, afternoon or evening costs extra.