What a contrast! Just a few kilometres beyond Sölden im Ötztal, heavily equipped for winter tourists, can be found the calm of the Venter Tal and the village of Vent, with its 158 residents.
A classic location among alpine mountaineering villages and with a long tradition, with alpine history and close connections to the Alpine Association. The point of departure for numerous classic alpine routes such as the Wildspitze, Similaun, Weißkugel and many more, and a place in the conflict between development projects and conservation.
This is where priest Franz Senn arrived on 28 September 1860 as curate in the mountain village situated at 1,900 above sea level. From here he both ran his tourism concept for the run-down population and founded the German Alpine Association.
Senn's tourism concept began with the premise: the mountain in its beauty and diversity of experience is not the possession of individuals, but belongs to all who take pleasure from it. Those people living in the mountains should make the mountain more accessible, provide accommodation for guests travelling here, look after them, advise them, support them with porter services and guide them according to their wishes on passes and climbing peaks. In exchange, guests from the city pay for these services with cash, helping the village to survive and conveying education and more openness to the world.
This basic concept also led to the foundation of the German Alpine Association, and to the sections of the Alpine Association with mountain lodges and strictly defined supervision of working areas. The budding alpinism and alpine tourism led to the first signs of prosperity in the side valleys of the Alps, – even in Vent. 120 years after pastor Franz Senn moved to Vent, namely on 12 July 1980, Vent had a wake-up call. While many other high-altitude alpine locations had long been taken over by an industrial-scale mass tourism, the Vent residents deliberately decided against this path.
In contrast to many other alpine mountaineering villages, the number of overnight stays in the summer season have remained almost constant, which reflects well on the strategy chosen by those in charge of tourism. The intention is, however, to maintain this level in the future. Franz Senn in the 19th century created the “hardware“ for alpinism in the mountain valley of Tyrol. What is needed now for the “software specialists“ of the 21st century is to refine Senn's recipe for success and further develop it with new ideas.