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A Life Dedicated to Tourism

After the Second World War, Eppan soon became one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Tyrol. This development was due in great part to some local tourism pioneers.
 
Eppan first started opening up to tourism in 1872 when the ‘Spa and Beautification Association’ (Cur- und Verschönerungsverein) was founded. The first attempts at turning Eppan into a popular spa town—like Meran, for example—were hampered by the First World War, the division of Tyrol, South Tyrol’s annexation by Italy, the rise of fascism, and later the economic crisis and the Second World War. It wasn’t until the 1950s that more tourists started coming here. In 1952, the Eppan Tourist and Beautification Association was founded, using a logo depicting Hocheppan Castle. Eppan has been one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Tyrol ever since.


KONRAD DISSERTORI spent almost 40 years working in the tourism industry, many of them as the director of the Tourism Association.


You have held many offices. What were your main priorities?
Konrad Dissertori: "I served as the vice-chairman of the ‘Verkehrs- und Verschönerungsverein’ and later as the director of the Tourism Association, which I headed until 1993. Back then, a lot of things needed to be set up and established: I founded the advertising committee called ‘South Tyrolean Wine Road’, for example, which—for the first time ever—incorporated the municipalities of Eppan, Kaltern and those of the South Tyrolean lowlands. But I also campaigned for smaller matters that indirectly benefited tourism, such as establishing structured waste disposal management, planting almond trees along the Wine Road, saving the Small Montiggl Lake and constructing a bike path that connects Bozen and Eppan."

You’re considered a pioneer of the advertising industry. What matters most to you?
Konrad Dissertori: "I initiated the twinning of towns, we shot colour films with sound depicting our cultural landscape, commissioned publications and printed appealing advertising material, and also mailed thousands of brochures to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the pre-Internet era, I spent a lot of time personally networking with people, both with journalists and tour operators. Furthermore, I joined forces with our music bands, traditional costume groups and tourism experts to organise promotional trips to the German-speaking countries. Guests were particularly fond of my slideshows, which also included a quiz and prizes."

MICHAEL EISENSTECKEN once owned the Steinegger inn, an institution steeped in tradition which he has since passed on to his descendants.

The Steinegger inn has been a popular destination for day-trippers since 1883. As a young farmer, you took over the business and expanded it into a hotel with a restaurant. What kind of challenges did you face in the pioneering days of tourism?
Michael Eisenstecken: "Those days were very difficult, but I was able to convince my parents to sell a plot of land so
I could finance the expansion. At first we only had 16 beds, then we converted the attic, and later we also added an annexe. The rooms were usually fully booked from Easter to November. I always had to be on my toes, and that is truer today than ever before: The first rooms all had running cold and hot water, later some had their own shower and bathtub, then came the underground parking garage and all the other amenities guests need nowadays."

You served in various municipal and regional committees. What prompted you to do that?
Michael Eisenstecken: "As a politically-minded person and entrepreneur, you have to support your community. South Tyrol’s society was characterised mainly by agriculture and was rather sceptical towards tourism. We had to change that, and to give the hospitality business greater political import. I was a founding member of the Economic Committee and the South Tyrolean Hospitality Association, a member of Eppan’s municipal council, a member
of the local building committee and a representative of the hospitality industry at the Regional Planning and Development Committee.

 
 
 
f.l.t.r. front: Michael Eisenstecken, Gisela Waldthaler Moser,
back: Josefine Sparer v. Call, Konrad Dissertori

GISELA WALDTHALER MOSER and her late husband were two of Eppan’s hotel pioneers.

You built a hotel with 60 beds by the Montiggl Lake as early as in the 1950s. How did that come about?
Gisela Waldthaler Moser: "My husband was actually in the lumber trade business. Before we got married, we bought a small farmhouse by the Montiggl Lake and turned it into a hotel, which was still possible back then. From the very start we wanted it to provide full board and lodging, and to have enough beds so that an entire tour bus could stay there overnight. During the first few years we worked together with the German automobile club ADAC, but soon we had a lot of direct customers as well, many of whom became regulars."

What happened then?

Gisela Waldthaler Moser: "We worked hard, things got better and we were able to expand the hotel and adapt it to meet the new needs. I worked mostly in the kitchen, but I also helped out at the hotel bar or the front desk, which meant I came into direct contact with the guests. It’s important to be there for the guests and to fulfil their wishes. Sometimes I stayed in the kitchen until past midnight to cook for guests who arrived late. Working in the hospitality business is a calling; it has to be something you enjoy doing. We passed that approach on to our three sons, each of whom now runs a hotel with several stars.

JOSEFINE SPARER V. CALL has been renting out private rooms since the late 1950s. Together with Matthias Walcher (founding member and first chairman of the Association of Private Accommodation Landlords, VPS) she was a driving force in establishing the profession of private accommodation landlords.
Josefine Sparer v. Call: "You rented out rooms from the very start. What prompted you and many other homeowners to do that? The first guests—and in fact, most of them—who came to Eppan in the 1950s spent their holidays in privately rented rooms, because they were cheaper and also because there weren’t that many hotels in Eppan at the time. Many guests also preferred the closeness of family. The private parlour, kitchen and bathroom were shared with the guests. At the beginning, most rooms only had a sink. Renting out rooms was a good way for women to earn some extra money and generate their own income. The men worked as farmers or had other jobs."

What has changed since then?
Josefine Sparer v. Call: "I think that guests have generally become more discerning. They expect even the booking process to be quick and easy; everything is done via the Internet. Today, we hardly get any booking requests by phone or regular mail anymore. Many former private accommodation landlords now offer holiday flats, which are especially popular with families with children."


Text and interview: Walburga Kössler

 
 
Published on 23.01.2017
 
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Walburga Kössler is an art historian, author and former lecturer for culture and construction in the municipality of Eppan. Kössler is currently writing a book on tourism in Eppan.
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