On the 14th of September, the Lead Partner Environment Agency Austria in cooperation with the Feder Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation Technology invited to the LAST MILE Final Conference to conclude the LAST MILE project and its extension on the effects of COVID-19.
The Final Conference started after a warm welcome by Robert Thaler from the Federal Ministry and Günther Lichtblau from the Environment Agency Austria.
The first input was about “Covid 19 pandemic and travel / mobility behaviour” by Romain Molitor from komobile Vienna. He came up with the conclusion that during the Covid-19 pandemic tourism stayed more local due to partial border closing and travel restrictions. Of course, active modes like biking and walking got even more attractive not only for day-to-day journeys also in tourism. But at the same time, the use of the private car increased followed by a drop in the use of public transport. Afterwards, Agnes Kurzweil (Lead Partner) from the Environmental Agency Austria summarized the intentions and goals of the Interreg Europe LAST MILE project, followed by a more detailed insight about the project by Manfred Mair from the Reginal Management of East Tyrol)l) and Mima Salafranca from mes advocats. They explained the role and importance of Flexible Transport Systems in the context of the Last Mile, by giving examples of proven FTS solutions and how to implement and manage them. Mima Salafranca complemented the effects of Covid-19 on the identified FTS. During lockdown there was significantly less mobility and this affected all regions and modes of transport However, in some regions tourism and therefore the FTS came to a total standstill (Slovak, Bulgaria, e.g.) while in other regions local tourism and the demand for FTS even increased (Luxemburg, Spain, e.g.). Meanwhile the user numbers of FTS are reaching almost the same levels as before the pandemic. Lucia Ilieva from the CLUB of Sustainable Development of Civil Society presented and evaluated the good practices identified by the LAST MILE project.
In the afternoon the participants discussed in two panels on the topics ““rise of active mobility” based on a keynote by Jill Warren from the European Cyclists Federation and “digitalization in tourism” based on the keynote by Katrin Erben from the Austrian National Tourist Office.. The key messages were that infrastructure in high quality is essential for cycling tourism as well as the need for mobility data. Based on (mobility) data measures can be set, reviewed and when needed be adapted.
In the end, the project partners can look back on 5 successful years and will continue to work on solutions to cover the last mile in tourism.