As part of the “DiscOver55” project, co-financed by the COSME fund of the European Union and in cooperation with three partner regions from Slovenia, Italy and Finland, we were able to welcome a group with 15 members for a pilot test of our offer from 23 to 28 November in Bad Gleichenberg. Our task in the project is the development of a marketable tailor-made tourist offer for the target group “International guests aged 55 years and older”. A Slovenian group of the senior citizens’ organization ZDUS tested our ideas and suggestions for six days and was asked to provide feedback about the experiences every evening.

For us as Spirit of Regions the focus was on the development of emotional experiences in combination with tradition and local customs. Nevertheless we consider visits to the well-known tourist highlights such as Zotter chocolate, Vulcano ham and world machine a must for first-timers in our region.

Tested idea: Advent in Vulkanland
Starting point of the discovery of the Silent Advent in Vulkanland was a visit of Straden – a famous place of pilgrimage with four churches, but only three churchtowers. Visit of the Advent exhibition at Kornberg Castle. Visit of the Advent markets in Feldbach and Bad Gleichenberg, both with very different concepts. A special experience for the group was the guided creation of their own Advent wreaths with a florist and the participation in the blessing of the Advent wreaths at the former blacksmith’s workshop on the village square in Mühldorf the next day.

Tested idea: Healing Sounds
Under the guidance of two experienced vocal and voice trainers (Ursula Krotschek and Olna Imola Trepsker) we initiated a daily musical experience for the group. It was very well received and will certainly remain in positive memories for a long time. The following methods were used:
* Theoretical introduction to the effect of singing on our health
* Perceiving one’s own voice in space
* Voice, body, use of the larynx
* Warm-up and singing exercises
* The healing effect of the colors and chakras, common tones in the circle
* The effect of sound shells and massages with singing bowls
* Community with singing
The specially composed and jointly learned Advent Yodeller remains an unforgettable souvenir for the guests.

Tested idea: Winter Hiking
How fit are guests 55+, what needs to be though of when choosing trails and tracks? These questions were particularly interesting because of the unknown age of the visitors and also the unstable weather conditions at this time of the year. On Friday we hiked a part of the GeoTrail in Kapfenstein from the GeoInfo Museum (heartfelt thanks for the great tour of Viktoria Rubak) to the Kapfenstein Castle and the next day together with Helga and Josef Kirchengast from Absetz (Gleichenberger Kogel) to the Huabn, where snacks and a meditation experience awaited the group. Both hikes were, hopefully due to our extensive thoughts and reflections regarding the topic beforehand, easily manageable also for the two oldest guests.

The suggestions provided by the group are now making a significant contribution towards improving our offer for the target group. Thanks to this refinement we are expecting a significant increase in the number of international guests enjoying the Vulkanland region in Advent 2017.

We’d like to say thank you to the partners involved in the project: GEFAS Steiermark (Andrea Grabher, Society for Active Aging and Solidarity of the Generations), Bad Gleichenberg Tourism Association, the Kaulferschs’ from the Gleichenbergerhof, Genser coach trips, Helga & Josef Kirchengast (Huabn), Ursula Krotschek and Olna-Imola Trepsker as well as the media representatives (Woche, Heimo Potzinger and VulkanTV, Jürgen Tackner) for the reporting.

Project’s website:

Report on VulkanTV

Pictures of the pilot test