Kempten - Representatives from business, politics, tourism and sport recently met for a panel discussion about the crowds and visitor management in the Allgäu
Moderator Markus Raffler welcomed Prof. Dr. Alfred Bauer (Dean of the Tourism Management Faculty at Kempten University of Applied Sciences), Klaus King (Mayor of Oberstdorf), Bernhard Joachim (Managing Director of Allgäu GmbH), Henning Werth (Biologist of the Alpin Nature Experience Center), Steffen Reich (Geoecologist and DAV head of department Nature conservation), Maximilian Klaus (IG Climbing & Bergsport Allgäu) and Dominik Bartenschlager (spokesman for the Allgäu mountain guides).
Johannes Schubert introduced the visitors to the topic with a keynote speech.
The researcher at the Research Center Allgäu spoke about the historical development of the Alps from “threatening nature” to a tourist destination and explained some of the classic approaches to visitor management in the Alpine region - including cycling and hiking trails, visitor awareness and the design of parking spaces.
Parking is a problem
The latter should be a recurring topic that evening: After individual statements by the participants, the discussion revolved primarily around the parking situation at tourist hotspots.
Steffen Reich stated that the problem of the high volume of traffic is not only a hot topic in the Allgäu - destinations such as the Berchtesgadener Land or the Tegernsee also have to contend with downright sheet metal avalanches on some days.
"Eight different mobility concepts are currently running in Oberstdorf to free the town and its residents from the masses of cars," said Mayor Klaus King.
In the future, a well-developed network of public transport that could bring guests from outside to the town should ensure climate neutrality and relieve the community in terms of car traffic.
Criticism of high fees
On the part of the mountain guides and athletes in the group, the parking system in Gunzesried was particularly praised, but at the same time critical voices about "overpriced and unfair" parking fees were loud throughout the region.
Here and there, in addition to the design of the parking area, other measures to guide visitors in the mountains were mentioned: Hikers should stick to fixed paths and respect signposted taboo zones - because, for example, "the black grouse needs an area in which it can be undisturbed," says biologist Henning Werth.
Respect for nature
Mountain railways prove to be another means of directing visitors: guests who float to the very top in the gondola are usually not far from the summit and therefore do not enter any protected areas in the mountains.
The Dean of the Faculty of Tourism Management was unsure, however, whether nature-hungry mountain enthusiasts would allow themselves to be influenced so easily by further control measures: "Where it's beautiful, it's full."
However, there was agreement in the entire group that nature is there for everyone equally and that no one can and should be excluded from its use.
Tourists and locals contribute equally to the protection and preservation of biodiversity in the Allgäu Alps and should use and enjoy it with respect and care.