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Research Unit Tourism and Sustainable Development

«Landscape, nature, culture and people are the social and tourist capital of a region. Nature- and culture-oriented tourism enables encounters, the conservation and use of the landscape as well as a sustainable regional development.»

Prof. Stefan Forster

The Tourism and Sustainable Development Research Group has operated as a branch campus of IUNR at the Center da Capricorns in Wergenstein (GR) since 2007. Its work focuses on nature-based and cultural tourism as a tool for sustainable regional development in rural areas, and its projects are aimed at establishing and expanding regional value chains and maintaining and promoting valuable cultural landscapes as the basis for sustainable tourism. The development of sustainable tourism benefits both local residents and visitors, since it boosts social and cultural activities at a local level while meeting the ever-increasing need for ecologically and socially responsible tourism.

Research interests

  • Nature-based and cultural tourism in mountain areas
  • Acceptance of conservation areas and nature reserves
  • Value creation through conservation areas and nature reserves
  • Agritourism
  • Tourism and sustainable development


  • Consultancy on the development and establishment of national parks and nature reserves (feasibility studies and management plans)
  • Strategic consultancy and project coaching in the fields of tourism and sustainable regional development (project planning concepts and business plans)
  • Developing nature-based and cultural tourism
  • Advising communities, regions and organisations on future-oriented sustainable development processes