by Marietta Ulrich-Horn

In the period from October 19th to 22nd, 2023 we went on a delegation trip to Carinthia and Slovenia. Our culturally diverse team consisted of Cheryl, Zalmay and Sophia (from the USA and Germany) from ARCH International, as well as Marietta, Andrea and Veronica (from Lower Austria and Carinthia and from Italy) from ARCH Europe.

Numerous meetings were on the program. We met with the Carinthian state government, Villach Alpine Association, Villach Tourism region, Kranjska Gora municipality, Kranjska Gora tourist association, Novo Mesto diocese – everywhere we encountered a very positive and optimistic attitude towards the undertaking to realize this lighthouse project.

The positive impact on tourism in the region as well as the role model effect beyond national borders were mentioned if the ecologically and economically innovative project was to be implemented. Moreover, another aspect of the project, namely an improvement in the cross-border communication in the border area between Carinthia and Slovenia, a former conflict area during the World Wars and the Cold War, was considered to be very valuable for the future, as it would contribute to peace and reconciliation.

During a hike together with Josef Puschan from the Annahütte Neu working group and architect Florian Lüftenegger, we were able to learn about sustainable alpine hut construction and its challenges. Florian explained the renovation and the modernization of the Goldeckhütte, which is due to be completed at the end of the year.

The Villach Region Tourism Association would now like to organize, together with ARCH Europe, a symposium that will address questions on the sustainability of Austrian mountain shelters and huts, with a focus on the perspectives of hut owners and innkeepers whom we will invite to take part in panel discussions. These will look at the challenges of today’s Alpine tourism and at solutions for how modern huts can be run in the future. The focus is on the circular economy on mountains and alpine pastures, as well as on concepts of intensive and extensive management of the huts and shelters, depending on the season and time of year.

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