Good practice destination Landlust (AT)

Contributor Sabrina Vecchio Ruggeri
Country Austria,
  • Cultural heritage protection
  • Destinations-in-Europe
  • Europe
Release date 23/06/2014
  • Natural Heritage & Biodiversity
  • Human Rights & Labour Rights
GSTC Criteria for Destinations
  • C4 Traditional access
Type Best Practice Destination (Best Practice Destination)
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# File name Contributor Release date Uploaded by Upload date Size Content type
Good Practice Innovation Sheet
Items Description
1. WHO
Key people and organisations (initiator, leader, partners)  Landlust (“lust for land” or “countryside delight”)
 TRV Thermenland Steiermark & TRV Oststeiermark
Key Figures Surface Inhabitants Tourism arrivals Tourism nights
 3357 km2, 3 districts  266.400  we didn’t get the info – appr. average of 4-5 nights per stay (in summer up to 14
nights, in winter 2-4 nights)
2012: +/-12.500 nights – some of the houses have an average of 230 to 250 nights
per year (!), others have appr. 150 n/y.
*2 owners didn’t inform us; in 28 houses were 12.354 nights 
2. WHY
Reason for taking the good practice action  The eastern part of Styria was located next to the “iron curtain” neighbouring with Hungary and Slovenia. It was a very rural region with little industry and few places to work. The farms were small and often run by part time farmers. So the region belonged to the poorest in Austria. For this reason people on the country side lived often in rather old but historic houses.
Only after the fall of the iron curtain and the detection of hot springs – which led to investments in spa tourism – the situation changed and in the 1980s and 1990s the region began to blossom.  The old farm houses were abandoned; people built new houses and moved there.
So the old rural houses remained but had no use anymore.
It was/is an important challenge to maintain these beautiful old houses as they are an important part of the historical heritage of our country.
Issues and challenge

 The assignment was to convince owners of old houses to invest time and money,
revitalize the houses and create valuable utilisation for it.
The concrete goals were:
- Revitalisation of old farmhouses through the conservation of the regional cultural resources in architecture and landscape;
- Profitable utilisation by using the houses as holiday homes for tourism (source of income for the owners)

3. HOW
Methods /steps / tools used (to develop the good practice)  

In close cooperation with the government of Styria (especially the “Revitalisation
Funds”) and regional institutions for development, land use regulation and tourism and with the support of an Interreg IIIA project (LoB - Leben in oststeirischen Bauernhöfen “Life in Eaststyrian Farmhouses” – in cooperation with a region in Slovenia) action was taken.
The owners of the old houses had to be reached: 20 presentations (with more than 1000 participants) about topics as wide ranging as renovation of buildings, organic building (Baubiologie), financing, subventions etc. were organized. Also 6 excursions with about 400 participants from the region but also with about 80 guests from Slovenia, Poland and Croatia were undertaken to see best practice examples.
Experts provided advice about renovation, planning/design, reconstruction, construction methods, drainage, organic building, financing and subventions/subsidies, developing tourism product, marketing. Over 500 inquiries of interested house owners were registered and more than 400 houses personally inspected where the owners got professional counselling.
160 house owners applied for subventions/subsidies from the Revitalisiation Funds (Styrian government), half of these to be used in tourism. The project was conducted between 2002 and 2006. An important part of the project was the support of the future accommodation providers and the development of the „product Landlust“:
- cottages and holiday homes that are more than 100 years old
- holiday domiciles with style – high quality offer
- a catalogue of criteria has to be fulfilled by the members regarding furniture and fixtures, quality of guest service, etc.
- common marketing with website, folder, PR-work and more
- training and workshops for the house owners (how to take care of guests, internet, marketing, etc.)
- cooperation with the regional and national tourist organizations
During this phase clear quality criteria were developed as well as a contract that has to be signed by every member of the group.
Some of the criteria:
- house minimum 100 years old
- old but renovated furniture or from natural material
- good comfort, modern plumbing units
- no kitsch
- for every unit (house or apartment) own place in the garden or terrace or balcony.
The houses are controlled before they are received into the group and later every
2-3 years to make sure that the quality is stable.
Since the after project phase Thermenland Steiermark is organising and supporting Landlust. Every year several meetings among the members are held, workshops for further training are organised (e,g, Social Media, How to provide attractive packages etc.) and PR/marketing measures are conducted.
Another important part is the involvement of regional rural products: fruits and juices, wine, meat and cheese products, bread, pumpkin seed oil etc. – all from the farmers nearby. In every house you get info about the producers of local good food, about restaurants and guesthouses with local cuisine and about all touristic attractions in the region. In some of the houses guests can even buy homemade products. By now Landlust has 31 members with 53 houses or apartments and 200 beds.

Specific/measurable results, benefits

 - Rising awareness about the value of the regional heritage among the population
- over 100 press reports about the project / the tourism offer and several TV
- income for the house owners
- a very attractive touristic product that fits exactly the trends for sustainable, soft
(slow) tourism

- Landlust hast – contrary to the other accommodation providers in the region – up to 50 % guests from abroad (the normal rate in spa tourism is 90 % Austrians!) - a new mission statement was developed in 2013 with the focus on sustainable evolvement.

Recognitions (e.g. awards)  2011 runners up Eden Award Austria 2006 Lafer Award-winner for the best „Package offer with Heart“ 2005 FM-Ideas-Contest winner in category „Cooperation“ 2004 Styrian Tourism Award in the category „Development of Topics and Products in Tourism“
Lessons learned  The lessons are manifold. Just some points: - The actors involved have to be taken by the hand and supported honestly and in many ways, then they really grow and become experts in the field of tourism and revitalisation. - Time is an important factor: for many house owners it took much more time to decide and finally implement the suggestions than was foreseen in the project plan. Some started from 2002 and are still not finished with the restoration of their house. So it needs lots of patience (plus financial support and/or voluntary work) to implement this kind of idea. - If there are even just a few people enthusiastic about the idea/project then the “fire” can be spread among the group. In Landlust many of the members are really engaged and burn for the idea of preserving old farm houses and also for the good care of their guests. It was amazing to watch them growing (in some cases) from simple farmers/housewives into strong personalities with much knowledge about tourism, internet platforms, marketing, guest care taking and other topics.
Challenges met  During the project phase but also later Landlust was invited to present the ideas in several countries and regions as it seems to be quite attractive for areas with old houses that are not used. But until now we didn’t hear that anyone picked this idea to implement it in another region. 
Critical success factors  We would be glad to give support / cooperate with destinations that are going in the same direction.
6. MORE 
web-references, documents