Upper Austrian Winter Sports Week
Regional Government of Upper Austria, Directorate for Education and Society, Dep. for family affairs

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
1. Lack of exercise and a lack of sports activities during the compulsory years of education 2. The number of participants in ski courses is sinking considerably due to the cost and the parents and pupils having little relation to the ski sport. 3. A decreasing number of teachers are doing the training necessary to teach ski course groups. 4. This winter sport is of high economic significance for the areas in Upper Austria that lack infrastructure. The absence of winter sportsmen/women would deprive many inhabitants in the valleys and outskirts in this state of their livelihoods.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Since 2009 the problem has been discussed on the "Plattform Schule und Schneesport" (platform school and snow sport) with the regional education authority (representatives from various school divisions), the cable car association of the Chamber of Commerce, the state of Upper Austria’s family department, the association of ski instructors and the regional skiing association to find possible solutions. These should make the sport attractive again for pupils and teaching staff, thus increasing the number of ski courses held in Upper Austria.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
With an innovative voucher system, which is processed online, the cost of winter sports weeks in Upper Austria was significantly reduced. The number of participants in ski courses rose by over 20% after its introduction. In particular the customer-friendly online process, which was developed together with partners and the little administrative effort required are seen as success criteria. The e-Government-solution facilitates exact documentation and statistical analyses.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The state of Upper Austria’s department for families in cooperation with the partners mentioned above has developed a voucher system, which through the financial support of the cable cars, provides the pupils on a ski course in Upper Austria with a lift pass free of charge for a maximum of five school days per year. The amount of support is capped with the value of the 50 Euro voucher. The remaining sum is covered by the respective ski region. The members of the Upper Austrian regional government decided on 1st September 2009 on the regulations for the subsidy for the Upper Austrian winter sports weeks. Since then there has been a continual increase recorded in the number of applications. The simple processing of filing an application from the school side, as well as the easy processing of the cost reduction from the side of the ski region by means of a hand scanner has meant positive responses from those involved, and subsequently the administrative work is reduced to a minimum.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
This offer was able to be realised because of the cooperation partners: the educational authority for Upper Austria, the platform "Schule und Schneesport" (school and snow sport), the regional tourist board, the Upper Austrian ski association, the bus companies, sport retailers and the cable cars in Upper Austria. Ski courses can be booked already for 120 Euros for a whole week all-inclusive. The organisation service for winter sports weeks and ski days developed in cooperation with the platform "Schule und Schneesport" (school and snow sport) is of enormous help for all the accompanying teachers with the organisation of a winter sports week, or days in Upper Austria. For each winter sports region in Upper Austria there is an organisation service for winter sports weeks at their disposal. Competent contact persons in the tourism offices and ski regions can assist in the search for accommodation, bus companies and general support programmes. (On the internet under http://www.oberoesterreich.at/wintersportwoche ). In order to reduce the financial burden for the parents, respectively the legal guardians and to facilitate the children more with the practice of skiing and snowboarding, the state of Upper Austria provides all participating pupils from Upper Austrian schools, and respectively from this season on the kindergarten children too, with a voucher for each winter season. This voucher enables the free of charge use of lift-type services (lifts, cable cars) in the Upper Austrian ski regions, which can only be redeemed in connection with a winter sports week, respectively a school winter sports day. Additionally, relevant information packs have been compiled for the target group. Partners in the project: Mr. Franz Schützeneder, Head of the Department of family affairs Mr. Helmut Holzinger, Head of the Plattform "School and Snow Sport" and Managing Director of the Hinterstoder-Wurzeralm Bergbahnen GmbH; Chamber of Commerce Mr. Hermann Felbermayr, Director of the Local education authority Mrs. Renate Katzmayr, Projekt Manager, Department of family affairs Mr. Heinz Gressenbauer, OÖ Tourismus GmbH, Manager Wintersports Ms. Elisabeth Resch, Jugend- und Familiengästehäuser, Youth- and Familiy Hostels Austria, Marketing Manager for hotel industry Mr. Wolfgang Pesendorfer, Vicepresident of the Upper Austrian Skiing Federation Mr. Peter Grögler, Oö. Seilbahnholding (Cable Cars); Marketing Director Mr. Kurt Süss, President of the Parents Association of Public Schools in Upper Austria Mrs. Anita Greifeneder, Department of Statistics; Regional Government of Upper Austria Mr. Günther Rabeder, Managing Director of Xortex; e-government solution for the project Mr. Wolfgang Benezeder, Office of the Vice-Governor of Upper Austria
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Via an online form on www.familienkarte.at (the website of the department for families) the application from the school’s side, respectively the kindergarten’s, can be accessed. Here, the school / kindergarten data is already in the system. As the pupils are already listed in the e*SA (an administrative programme of the regional education authority for teachers), a final list of participants can already be compiled in the system and can then be used for the online application. Just the date of the ski course needs to be added. Further, the desired ski region and the accommodation need to be selected. The vouchers are forwarded to the school for those participants the school has named. In the appendix there is an explanation that can be detached and given to the pupils to take home for their parents / guardians. At the start of the ski course the vouchers are handed in at the counter for the lift and in return the participants receive the regular lift cards. On each voucher there is an individually generated EAN-Code which guarantees the validity of the voucher and thus, is relevant for the final bill later. The ski region concerned deals with the deductions and the redeemed vouchers online with the administrative office of the government of Upper Austria. The redeemed vouchers are fed into the system by means of a hand scanner by the ski region concerned, which in turn is automatically credited and thus, the voucher is then void. On the 1st of every month the billing is automatically carried out in the online system for the ski regions and subsequently, the payment process is activated at the Upper Austrian authorities. Through the online billing process of the vouchers, which depending on the ski region are of a very high value, these vouchers no longer need to be sent on to the Upper Austrian family department. The EAN-codes guarantee that every voucher can only be redeemed once. As all of the processing of the subsidies is carried out solely online, substantial administrative costs for all concerned are saved (personnel, postage costs etc.). Furthermore, a consistent evaluation of the funding required is possible.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Winter tourism in Austria is based on skiing and particularly with this support the state of Upper Austria was able to counteract the looming "out" for winter sports in schools and kindergartens. Meanwhile this project is already a success story: This promotional strategy has been offered since the winter season of 2009/10. In the first year 7.100 pupils were granted such a voucher for ski trips lasting several days, in 2010/11 it was already 8.600 vouchers. In the last season 9.400 vouchers for Upper Austrian winter sports weeks were issued (about 40.000 overnight stays!). For this year’s winter season we expect to see another increase in the number of claims for free of charge lift passes. For single winter sports days for primary children and kindergarten children an additional 20.000 vouchers will be issued for this year’s season. Furthermore, the increased demand for accommodation, especially for school children is noticeable in tourist accommodation. The investing (of JuFa) in "youth and family guesthouses" in the locations of Grünau / Almtal (Ski region Kasberg) and Spital/Phyrn (Wurzeralm) can be seen as a positive indication and success of the efforts. Both domiciles should open in the coming season.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Apart from the voucher offer, which is certainly the most important tool for pushing more winter sport weeks in schools, the platform provided many features which could only be put into effect through the close cooperation of the various organisations. The online application carried out by the teachers is a relief for the parents, just as the scanning of the voucher codes at the lift stations is for the administrative staff. The integrated e-government-design of the promotion of the "Oö. Wintersportwoche" (Upper Austrian winter sports week) accomplished a high level of approval among its partners due to the close coordination with the local education authority, the resources available there (tying in the data) and the simple billing method with the hand scanner without needing additional programmes (web-based). By the end of the 2011 family surveys (n=1500 sets of parents) the promotion "Upper Austrian winter sports week " received the best rating over all By the end of the 2011 family surveys (n=1500 sets of parents) the promotion "Upper Austrian winter sports week " received the best rating over all financial assistances from public funds: 83 percent of those who used the service are "very satisfied" with it and 15 percent are "quite satisfied", which is a satisfaction rate of 98 percent. The survey is done every two years. In 2013 the satisfaction rate is still the highest with 93 percent.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle was probably the barrier to do the application for this benefit in the way of e-government by the teachers. On the one hand the school has to execute the application for the free lift ticket and on the other hand the system requires the data of the participating pupils due to personalized vouchers. A great administrative effort was expected by teachers. Therefor e*SA (an administrative programme of the regional education authority for teachers) has provided a separate report, which easily and without much effort can be add to the application.So we tried to make it as easy as possible for applying teachers and offered a solution in this way, that the application system for this benefit can put in the list of pupils automatically. Via an online form on www.familienkarte.at (the website of the department for families) the application from the school’s side, respectively the kindergarten’s, can be accessed. Here, the school / kindergarten data is already in the system. As the pupils are already listed in the e*SA, a final list of participants can already be compiled in the system and can then be used for the online application. Just the date of the ski course needs to be added. Further, the desired ski region and the accommodation need to be selected. With a manual for the system it was easy for each person to handle it. A manual for the ski regions and one for the applying schools and kindergartens was offered, explaining the system step by step and make it as easy as possible to apply for the benefit. Therefore the Upper Austrian government got positive feed back by schools and teachers for these efforts. A big challenge was to convince the skiing regions to take part in the project, even the full price for the lift passes is not covered by the regional government. The cable car companies accepted, to cover about 20 Euro for each lift pass (when the full price ist about 70 Euro and the government covers up to 50 Euro for an week for one pupil). At least all skiing regions in Upper Austria take part in the project and they are glad about this support by the government.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1. Economically feasible offers for a ski course in Upper Austria 2. Interconnection and cooperation between the schools, pedagogical universities, the state of Upper Austria, tourism associations, cable car association, the associations for ski instructors, ski schools and bus companies 3. Promoting training for accompanying teachers and advanced teacher training 4. All-inclusive packages (bus, lift, food, accommodation) 5. Increased demand for accommodation 6. Investments in tourism in the valleys and outskirts 7. At least more pupils doing again winter sports

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
In principle the use of the project design in many administrative fields is possible. The implementation of a voucher system has the advantage that only the vouchers that are actually utilised by the subsidised post have to be paid for. Thus, a very exact amount of aid is guaranteed. Through the integrated e-Government-application a very precise documentation is ensured and detailed statistical data can be drawn upon for possible improvements. We already use the voucher system for our project “parental education” very successfully.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The Upper Austrian winter sports week is seen as a pilot project of the efforts of the "Plattform Schule und Schneesport" (platform school and snow sport).Close cooperation even between many stakeholders can lead to quite good results, when the target is clear and support is given by every stakeholder to the project. A customer-friendly online process, which is developed together with partners and the litttle administrative effort required are seen as success criteria. Easy processing leads to cost reduction in administration. Doubts in using e-government can be avoided by support eg. user manual and a coherent IT programm. The e-government solution fcilitates exact documentation and statistical analyses. Vouchers save money, because only redeemed vouchers have to be paid.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Regional Government of Upper Austria, Directorate for Education and Society, Dep. for family affairs
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Franz Schützeneder
Title:   Mag.  
Telephone/ Fax:   ++43 732 7720 11830
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   franz.schuetzeneder@ooe.gv.at  
Address:   Bahnhofplatz 1
Postal Code:   A-4021
City:   Linz
State/Province:   Upper Austria
Country:  

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