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From Sleeping Beauty into the Future

Transformation of the Semmering region into an attractive year-round destination

Hardly any other region in Austria is currently so caught between past and present as the Semmering. But like no other region, it also combines the poles of science & technology, regeneration and creativity. The pioneering technology of the Semmering Railway helped the region to flourish. The term "summer resort" is inseparably linked with the region and for a long time Semmering was considered an inspiring refuge for artists. In recent decades, however, the Semmering region has increasingly fallen into disrepute for lagging behind its potential and lapsing into a "Sleeping Beauty slumber".

ecoplus GmbH therefore set itself the goal of changing this and transforming the region from a classic summer resort to a year-round business by 2030. ecoplus was aware that this path could not be taken alone, but that a common understanding of the region, a common objective and common action had to be in place as the basis for successful project implementation. In order to set the course for the further development of the region, it therefore wanted to get an overview of which people have been particularly committed to the region for years by making decisions or enriching the region with visionary ideas, in order to get the transformation of Semmering underway with all relevant key players.  

In order to address this comprehensive concern, ecoplus commissioned us, among others. We dedicated ourselves as a research institute in the context of a referential network analysis to the question "how do you manage to translate this strong deep myth into the present and future in such a region steeped in history without falling into the nostalgia trap?".

Inside-Out: The Referential Network Analysis

Referential network analysis allows us to pool the knowledge of those people who, from within the community, are considered to be essential to a certain region/topic. With the referential network analysis, we thus pursue a radical bottom-up approach: It is not to be determined from the outside what the essential persons or topics are, but those persons to whom expertise is attributed by the community, whose point of view has influence! Thus, in over 40 in-depth interviews with key players in the region, we surveyed the issues that need to be addressed in order to transform the region into an attractive year-round destination.


  • Diversity: 
    There are many different key players:in the region- we identified 140 for the region in over 40 interviews in the areas of business, politics and administration, culture, sports and civil society. Among them are new investors, long-established, traditional houses and businesses that have kept the region alive, second-home owners and cultural workers. This incredible diversity is what makes the region!
  • Second home owners as an asset:
    Second home owners make up a large percentage (Semmering has the highest percentage of second home owners in Austria). The outside perspective of second home owners should definitely be used as a resource.
  • Conversation instead of Conservation:
    We have to translate the Semmering myth into the present and into the future with the help of the key players on site. To do this, it is essential to develop an overall master plan and to implement it together. This is precisely what ecoplus Alpin is concerned with. Because this is the only way to bring Semmering "from slumber into the future".