Farming Needs Tourism! Tourism Needs Farming!

©Tirol Shop / Krings Maren

Why is Tirol so beautiful? Well, the answer to that is simple. Tirol is beautiful because it is cared for by its inhabitants and it has been that way for hundreds of years. In particular, the farmers with their cultivation and cattle ensure that the blades of grass glow in their greenery. The mountains that were a constant danger to inhabitants, once magically lured adventurous Brits. With these first alpinists came artists, whose work attracted the urbanites to the mountains and more specifically, Tirol.

Many inhabitants and farmers could then create another livelihood for themselves. From simple inns with time came luxurious hotels. With the rise in infrastructure as well as the construction of lifts and accommodation, Tirol became the number one tourist destination in the world. No other region has more tourists per capita.

“We live from nature and with nature” – Balthasar Hauser

Rural structures were able to be maintained thanks to the developments in tourism. The agricultural subsidies of the European Union also play a part in this. The EU’s transparency database provides detailed information on funding. You can check who received funding, how much they got and on what basis they received it. Without a doubt, monetary and time costs are not feasible for many land owners. Famers who have had enough will sell or lease their paddocks to neighbouring farmers, who can then keep more animals. The austrian program to develop rural areas (LE2020) as well as further information on the Tirolean government website can help when applying for agricultural subsidies.

First holiday region Zillertal ©Tirol Werbung / Aichner Bernhard

Balthasar Hauser from Stanglwirt in Going says “We live from nature and with nature”. For Hauser and many other farmers and innkeepers, the return to nature, the use of products from their own organic farms as well as the use of local materials is a no-brainer. Not because it is a current trend but because it is the most efficient, ecological and economic method.

Farming in the mountains#

Of course this successful combination also has it downsides. Milk and meat prices demand efficient animals, whose breeding also has negative effects; for example, many cows will not reach the age of ten. The hay and silage is supplemented with power feed to in order to reach maturity quicker and yield more milk. There is a risk that animals may fall into the background. Small structures along with the diligence and dedication of many farmers help to reduce this.

Why are there not more organic farmers?

The fact that there are only a small number of famers who farm organically is mostly due to the economic viability of the practice. The cost and the frequent testing are often obstacles for many part-time farmers, which is not made beneficial pricewise from the customers.

The combination of economic indepence, tradition and proximity to nature creates the secret recipe for Tirol’s cultural landscape. The lift companies and hotels are the main customers and have a large infuence on farmers and their pricing.

The preservation of agriculture, as well as the treatment of nature is an important building block. With it, tourism in the Alps is able to flourish in the long term without destroying the natural landscape. Previous generations could overlook environmental protection; however, today we cannot afford to ignore it.

The mountain regions are under strict observation from environmental regulators, which is not always well received by farmers and tourism as they must do a lot to meet the strict environmental requirements. As tourism requires constant investment, political framework conditions must be implemented in order to conserve nature.

Landwirtschaft und Tourismus
Brown cattle show Ischgl 2017

The cooperation between farming and tourism

Lift company projects are often subject to criticism. Nevertheless, these investments make it possible to preserve the natural landscape. Thanks to lease payments, farmers have a good reason to continue farming. Along with livestock breeding or water supply, preventing pollution is of great importance to the local population.

On the other hand, more environmentally-friendly practice must become the norm, even if that means adapting decade-old traditions.

Successful tourism requires well functioning farming in the Alps. Maintaining this cooperation is a task for all parties involved. Policies must therefore enforce fair and useful measures and guests should also be deterred from damaging the natural environment during their visit.

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