Lechweg hiking trail boosts tourism in the Austro-German border region

A cross-border cooperation project between tourism associations, in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, Austria and Bavaria, Germany, has resulted in a hiking trail that follows the river Lech from its springs to a waterfall.

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The Lechweg invites hikers to explore the alpine landscape along the river Lech. © Verein Werbegemeinschaft Lechwege The Lechweg invites hikers to explore the alpine landscape along the river Lech. © Verein Werbegemeinschaft Lechwege

" The success of the Lechweg has shown that a unique landscape doesn’t need much in order to showcase itself. Soft tourism in harmony with nature continues to be on the rise and has a lot of potential to trigger sustainable economic effects. "

Juliane Rohde, Project management Lechweg

The Lechweg has become an all-round tourism product. Within 125 km, visitors can benefit from gastronomic services, find accommodation and information about the sights. While the main project was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), accompanying products, such as Lechweg beer and regional culinary specialties, have been financed through the transnational LEADER project.

The project and marketing campaigns have been successful: overnight stays along the trail have increased by 6 % from 2011 to 2012, the first year of the campaign, and by another 11 % in 2013, triggering investments from hotels and inns in the region. Bookings via a local travel business have doubled between 2012 and 2013, with the number of people who booked a hiking package increasing by 150 %.

A tight cooperation among tourism associations

In order to appeal to a broader range of hiking tourists, the cross-border association “Werbegemeinschaft Lech-Weg” has decided to capitalise on the beauty of nature along the river Lech. Thanks to elements like relaxing seats and signs highlighting particularly striking landscape features, the trail has been enhanced, and is now suitable for ramblers with no alpine experience.

Depending on individual shape and preferences, the entire trail – from the springs of the river Lech in Vorarlberg region to the Bavarian city of Füssen – can be hiked in six to eight days, but the good public transport connections also allow for day trips or shorter excursions.

Marketing and nature conservation – benefits for the region

The project also included a marketing campaign, with the creation of a website, participation at selected tourism fairs, reports in hiking magazines, and video documentaries. The efforts attracted more tourists, and gave a boost to the region’s economy, creating job opportunities for the local population.

Furthermore, the project and the cooperation with the Tiroler Lech Natural Park has helped preserve the unique landscape along the river, which is one of the last wild areas in Europe.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Lechweg – From the Spring to the Falls” is EUR 465 594, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 279 357, through the “Interreg IV-A Germany (Bavaria) - Austria” Operational Programme, for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

27/05/2015