Since this winter at the latest, we are all familiar with the white ribbons on the green meadow. This "winter season" illustrates once again that new ideas and concepts are needed to become an attractive destination outside the ski season. The region around the Ötscher and Hochkar is also dealing with the question of how this can succeed.
In the last 2 years, many people have been involved in the process of repositioning Lackenhof am Ötscher (in terms of tourism) - an ideas competition was launched (https://www.der-oetscher-ruft.at/), which encouraged citizens and tourists to submit their thoughts on development opportunities for the Ötscher region and thus support the repositioning as an attractive year-round destination.
We at FASresearch were commissioned by ecoplus Alpin GmbH to expand the process to include the region around the Hochkar and to investigate the question: Where do the local key players see the strengths, potentials and challenges of the region?
In the course of a referential network analysis, we conducted in-depth interviews with over forty regional key players and identified 148 people in 125 different organizations. We spoke with the mayors of the region, but also with representatives of the Federal Forests, owners of hotels, tourism experts, ski club owners, etc.
Figure 1: The network of regional key players.The nodes symbolize persons. The size of the nodes illustrates the number of nominations, the arrows show the direction of nomination. The stronger the arrow, the more intensive the mutual relationships between the persons.
Depth narrative in transformation
The referential network analysis makes it possible, on the one hand, to find out who is important for the region and who should definitely be involved in the development process and, on the other hand, which topics are important to the key players.
In our analysis of the in-depth conversations with representatives from politics and administration, business and tourism as well as society, we have condensed the different perspectives and worked out the essence in accordance with the meta-model of the deep narrative of the region developed by FASresearch (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: The depth narrative of the region. This meta-model was used to assign the statements of the key players. With the help of this model, challenges, attractors (what already distinguishes the region?) and potentials were evaluated.
Insights from the Community
What are the major challenges facing the region?
- Accommodation structure: A boost in attractiveness and quality is needed.
- Lack of financial resources: Planning security is needed for investments in the region - the state has now complied with this and has taken over the Ötscher lifts on a permanent basis.
- The climate crisis is seen as both a challenge and an opportunity: Of course, winter sports have to face challenges there, but it also opens up new opportunities for year-round tourism.
Where are the strengths seen now? What can be built on?
- The proximity to urban centers such as Vienna and Graz creates a large pool of potential vacation guests.
- The current context favors regional vacations (energy prices, inflation, sustainable awareness, etc.).
- The integrity of nature and the unique and diverse natural landscape invites special experiences.
Where do the key players:inside see the potential?
Figure 3: The most important potentials seen by the key players in the context of the lowland narrative.
We are pleased to have contributed with our project to making the Ötscher and Hochkar regions an attractive and sustainable vacation and local recreation area for the whole year. Renate Rakwetz, mayor of the market town Gaming, to which the cadastral municipality Lackenhof belongs puts it in a nutshell: "Particularly pleasing is the high level of agreement that Lackenhof ultimately distinguishes the special natural quality and that we can become pioneers for sustainable tourism."