Bad Gastein - Excursion

Christina Schraml

In March 2018 the Social Design Studio undertook an excursion to the tourism region Bad Gastein. Our companions, the documentary film makers Elisabeth Guggenberger and Helmut Voitl, had organized a varied programme for our stay, which gave us the chance to meet and engage with the local community and thus discover the many faces of Bad Gastein.

Bad Gastein is a holiday region in the Austrian mountains, which is characterised by numerous historic high-rise hotel buildings erected on the steep slopes. In the 19th century the waters of the town became fashionable and it was visited by monarchs and the rich and famous. In search of gold, forced labourers discovered healing radon in the mountains in 1938. After the second world war, mass tourism was pushed and Gastein became known as a skiing and health resort. However, in recent years Gastein suffers from an economic decline, which shows in the high number of vacancies in the centre, some of which are subject to speculation. These transformations cast a shadow on Gastein, which had once enjoyed the image “Monte Carlo of the Alps”.

During our stay we reflected upon today’s tourism industry – as a blessing or a curse: We were accommodated at the Villa Mühlberger, whose owners refuse mass tourism but rather opt for an alternative way of living. At our visit to the international tourism school in Hofgastein we exchanged with students on their choice of career.

To learn more about Gastein’s past we met a group of senior citizens at the local retirement home. The historian Daniela Ellmauer gave us a lecture about the region’s Nazi past. Our visit to the Montan Museum introduced us to the local mining culture. Members of the Perchtenverein presented us their tradition, which is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

Architect and hotel owner Ike Ikrath and his colleagues gave us a tour during which we learned about reasons of the recent decay as well as possible problem-solving strategies. Klaus Horvat-Unterdorfer presented his initiative “EinGastein” – a network of local entrepreneurs, which was founded to counteract the economic decline in the valley.

A definive highlight on our last night was a splendid dinner at the Miramonte with a generous view on Gastein’s skyline. Before returning home, we experienced the Austrian mountain scenery on top of Kreuzkogel.

Read our travel report, which was published in Pongauer Nachrichten, here.

(c) Eylem Ertürk 2018

(c) Christina Schraml 2018


© Christina Schraml


March 2018
Bad Gastein
Katrin Ecker
Eylem Ertürk
Brigitte Felderer
David Grüner
Elisabeth Guggenberger
Silvan Hagenbrock
Magdalena Hubauer
Dahyun Kim
Klaus Kodydek
Aki Lee
Susanne Mariacher
Pavel Naydenov
Nathalia Portella
Gabriella Reyes
Bernd Rohrauer
Julijana Rosoklija
Christina Schraml
Maria Tsaneva
Helmut Voitl
Raphael Volkmer
Lukas Weithas
Zuzanna Zajac
Anne Zühlke