Travel to the stars: Astrotourism

European group of experts visits the German Rhön star park

You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel to the stars, because star parks all over the world invite you to visit the stars and offer a nocturnal natural phenomenon that can be experienced particularly beautifully in the Rhön. Reason enough for a group of experts of the European project STARLIGHT to visit the Rhön within the framework of a professional excursion from August 28 – 30, 2023 and to exchange ideas with local experts. Central questions: How can stargazing be better used as a tourist trend to draw attention to the consequences of light pollution on the environment and biodiversity? What new career opportunities arise from astrotourism?

The starry sky has fascinated and influenced mankind throughout the ages, but in many urban regions this experience of nature is hardly possible anymore. Nocturnal light sources such as streetlights, building lighting, spotlights and billboards not only deny a view of the celestial bodies, but also have a negative impact on animals, plants and human health. Therefore, in order to experience a starry sky in all its glory, more and more people are visiting places that provide an unobstructed view of the celestial bodies and the Milky Way. Astrotourism is in the process of establishing itself as a trendy tourist topic. 

The European STARLIGHT team with Rhön Tourism Manager Silvia Hillenbrand (third from right)

STARLIGHT aims to raise awareness of the night sky

The European STARLIGHT project is dedicated to raising awareness about light pollution and providing information about the beauty of the night sky. In STARLIGHT, 92 thematically structured training units have been developed to qualify those interested in stargazing to develop tourist offers. This also includes qualification for astronomical guided tours and respectful interaction with nature. “The STARLIGHT program combines science-based education about the effects of light pollution with the acquisition of skills for tourist offers in the trendy topic of astrotourism,” says project manager Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn. She is the managing director of the non-profit institution “Kultur und Arbeit e.V.”, which was the only German partner to invite the European consortium to the Rhön. “There are already experiences in the Rhön that are exemplary throughout Europe,” says Drda-Kühn. In the exchange with tourism expert Silvia Hillenbrand from Rhön Tourism, the focus was on strategies in star tourism, target groups for tourism offers and the involvement of locals.  Star Park coordinator Sabine Frank inspired the European team of experts with a storybook tour of information and empathetic persuasion for the topic.

Attractive product presentation in the tourist info in Wildflecken-Oberbach
Pleasant meeting of the STARLIGHT team in the “Sonnentau” – hotel in Fladungen

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