Austrian Pilot Action 

Strengthening regional partnership in selected SPA regions in Upper Austria

The aim of this pilot action is to strengthen regional partnership to reach a better and sustainable capitalisation of the factor “natural heritage”. The Upper Austrian pilot action is anchored in two pilot regions: Bad Zell/Tourism Association “Mühlviertler Alm Freistadt” and Geinberg/Tourism associaton “s’Innviertel”. To secure high ecological and regional welfare standards in the use of thermal water, common regional strategies will become more and more important. Upper Austria has been developing a network of intercommunal cooperation structures on the regional level, where common strategies are discussed in the fields of spatial planning, protection of natural resources as well as social and economic strategies. Through the formation of local networks, these existing structures are now to be made more sensitive to thermal water issues and used for the protection of thermal water.

Pilot Region 1 “Mühlviertler Alm Freistadt”:

Closely related to the granite types of the Bohemian Massif in the region, there is an accumulation of springs with increased radon concentrations in the Mühlviertel. The best-known radon-containing water resource in the region is the so called Hedwigsbründle, which belongs to the health center in Bad Zell. To create an opportunity of even stronger positioning of the water offer in the region and a better link to other offers, an analysis of other healing springs (the so called “Heilbründle”) in the region is being carried out. The Heilbründle have been known throughout the region for a long time, but have hardly received any scientifically based/touristic attention so far. Within the HealingPlaces project a specific existing offer is identified, the healing effects are examined and the integration into the tourist offer is made possible. In this way, the awareness of the resource “healing water” can be increased and partnerships along the topic of “healing water” throughout the region can be strengthened.


Pilot Region 2 ”s’Innviertel”:

The expectations of the modern tourist have risen, and a stronger position in the direction of health tourism includes a chance for the entire region. Thus, the sustainable and resource-saving use of thermal water requires more than a well-functioning thermal bath. In addition, resource-saving use also requires cross-industry cooperation in order to be able to identify and use synergies. Therefore, in the pilot region s’Innviertel, an analysis of the existing health tourism and thermal water-based offer is carried out in order to be able to identify such synergy effects for the region and the sustainable use of the natural resource.


Indicators depend on the specificity of the action e.g. experts participating in the action; number of meetings/workshops; number of reports/expertises

All together the following indicators will be reached:

•    Written documentation and analysis in both pilot regions

•    Analysis of the existing offers, the active forms of use and the current situation.

•    Identification of opportunities, best practice examples and gaps

•     Round tables with important stakeholders

•     Meeting with established managing directors of relevant tourism association

•     Meeting with SPA representatives in both pilot regions

•     Presentation of the findings at regional events

•     If possible, bring together the regional working groups of both regions in a joint final event

•     Medial dissemination of the findings in regional newspapers

Both pilot regions give a new insights and links for awareness-raising in the region and possibilities of sustainable tourism use. On the one hand in ancient sources and their healing effects, on the other hand, on sustainable use as complementary touristic offer but also on touristic and non-touristic use of thermal water. Especially the analysis of pilot region Geinberg is focusing on elaborating best practices of Cascadian use of water.

For every pilot region the touristic potential will be examined of the local thermal and healing water offer with regard to possible protection and sustainable use.

Both pilot regions help to identify opportunities for cooperation in order to strengthen partnerships. Both analyses improve the link between (non-)touristic use of thermal and healing water with the local partners.

The benefit of the Upper Austrian pilot action lies particularly in the very different approaches. There is no classic thermal region in the Mühlviertel region, the resource is based on several small radon-containing water sources. On the other hand, there is a typical thermal water depot in the Innviertel, which is used by very different players. While pilot region 1 shows that smaller water resources have also to be used sustainably, region 2 mainly shows the challenges in the common (cross-sectoral) use of water reservoirs.