THE Tirol federal province in Austria is one of the most intensive tourist regions in the world, covering approximately 34 per cent of tourist demands in Austria, according to the Innsbruck Tourismus office.
More than 8,64 million guests and some 42 million overnight stops were registered in 2007.
Winter ski holidays in the Tirol are the most popular. Here there are 1,300 cable cars and lifts on a total of 3,500 km of groomed slopes, the most prominent being in the capital Innsbruck and in the skiing resorts of Kitzbühel and Seefeld.
The Tirol also boasts five glaciers beyond an altitude of 3,000 m which can be skied on. From October 1 until June 1, 2009 (Whitsun Monday), the White 5 ski pass is valid at all of the five glaciers and offers benefits including guarantee snow and the flexibility to use the pass within eight months.
The White 5 costs EUR 298 and is available at all cable car companies of the five glaciers.
A USP of the Tirol area is its many hotels featuring environmentally friendly options. The Biohotel Florian in Reith bei Kitzbühel is regarded as one of Austria’s eco tourism pioneers. The hotel relies on wind and solar energy, small hydroelectric plants and biodiesel installations.
The Hotel Crystal in Obergurgl is the first hotel in Austria heated 100 per cent by means of renewable energy. The 120 bed hotel at an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level dispenses entirely with oil and gas. The building is equipped with a heat pump and a 300 sq m solar system.
The Wellness Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Maurach am Achensee boasts a 150 sq m solar heating system for the mains water. In addition the hotel uses solar energy for the indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna.
The Kaiserhotel in Ebbs is supplied by a solar system that is used for hot water, for the panorama pool and for part of the floor heating. The Hotel Furtherhof in Kirchdorf has managed to reduce its oil consumption by 50 per cent thanks to the installation of a solar heating system.
Austria’s biggest accommodation provider the Austrian Alpine Club has introduced an incentive for the operators - the hut seal of quality. This requires certain environmental conditions to be observed, for example energy saving measures, disposal of waste and clean surroundings. Increasingly, Alpine huts are being equipped with their own biological sewage plants so that effluents can be properly treated.
The Alpine Club owns some 190 Austrian mountain huts in category 1, so called “high altitude huts” for which the environmental seal of quality was created. Currently 53 huts bear the seal, 27 of them in the Tirol.
Magical Innsbruck Christmas
Innsbruck and its 25 surrounding villages have much to offer holidaymakers, for a combination of town, sport, culture and nature attractions are offered all year round.
For the winter season though, the favourites are the Christmas markets sporting Christmas tree lights, carol singing sessions and the wafting aroma of freshly made Kiachln (piping hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkaut).
From November 21 until December 28 traditional Christmas ornaments, Tyrolean handicrafts, candles and Christmas pastries will adorn the sales stalls. The historical Old Town is a good meeting place for friends and at 5.30 pm the Turmbläser brass music creates a great atmosphere.
This year from November 23 until January 6, 2009 Innsbruck’s main boulevard Maria-Theresien-Strasse will be declared a Christmas zone with seasonally adorned market stalls.