The first step toward reorientation of Austria’s Verwall valley in St. Anton am Arlberg was the restructuring of the area around the Verwall lake in summer 2017. A new play area offers a wide range of equipment where children can let off steam. In the meantime, the adults can wind down by relaxing in the wooden arbors and taking in the natural surroundings. The magic of the lake can be experienced by young and old alike as they walk along the wooden jetties over the water. There is plenty to discover for both guests and local visitors. Those who want to experience the power of the alpine water can cross the new hanging bridge and look down at the torrent of water cascading down the side of the dam. A lot of exciting features designed to make the route to the Verwall valley attractive for families were realized in spring 2017 in a first phase. Input Projektentwicklungs GmbH is responsible for the design concept, which is based on regional legends and places a special emphasis on authenticity. The second phase of the project with another four legend-themed stations was due to start in the spring 2018. “The legends all come from the region – from St. Anton to Strengen – and will be specially staged with families and children in mind, enabling the world of legends to become part of a playful experience. We can already reveal the stories associated with the four themed stations: Arlen castle, the Stiegenegg witch, the husband’s spirit and the Schnann wizard,” says a delighted Martin Ebster, director of the St. Anton am Arlberg tourist association.
New themed offers bring fresh momentum for tourism in the region. What made you decide on this particular visitor attraction in the Verwall valley?
Martin Ebster: From our viewpoint, it seemed self-evident to incorporate the theme of legends into our offer. The Verwall valley is particularly well suited to this idea. The left side of the valley is very sports-oriented with offers for mountain bikers, climbers and plenty more besides. As you go further into the valley, so the world of myths and legends opens up. There is also a free bus service for our guests – that means every visitor can choose whether to come on foot or take a bus ride.
How important was it for you to create an individual and authentic offer that’s in harmony with nature?
Martin Ebster: We’re convinced that, as a destination, we have to be modern and stay in touch with the latest trends if we are to remain competitive. At the same time, it’s very important that we don’t forget our traditions. That’s why our offer has to be true to ourselves and to our roots. We’ve placed a strong focus on regionality, on resources that are authentic for the Verwall valley and actually exist here. The wide use of wood communicates our tradition and the attachment to our natural surroundings – that’s very important to us.
Input developed and researched the concept with the legends, and in some cases reinterpreted them slightly. What impressed you in particular about the work with and by Input?
Martin Ebster: What we particularly like about the collaboration with Input is their flexible approach to putting our ideas and wishes into practice. They also contribute great ideas and creativity to the projects. That has enabled us to set the Verwall valley apart from our competitors as a tourist destination with a special range of attractions for our guests.
How important is it for your region to stand out from the crowd in relation to competitors with this summer offer and what are your expectations in terms of how these experiential attractions will be received?
Martin Ebster: Everybody tries to make their region stand out. The potential is huge. We have an inexhaustible supply of legends that can be used for future projects. Our customers should be provided with a varied and exciting offer – and we can meet that expectation.
Interview made by WIR magazine. Many thanks for talking with us! - Martin Ebster, director of the St. Anton am Arlberg tourist association.