STYRIAN IRON ROUTE
The Steirische Eisenstraße is a regional association and a LEADER region in the state of Styria. Both organisations cover parts of the former industrial and mining area in the northeast of Styria (MurMürz-Furche). The LEADER region includes 17 municipalities, the largest being the town of Leoben. It is the regions administrative, economic, urban and cultural centre with about 25.000 inhabitants. Furthermore, it is home to a university, specialising in mining, metallurgy and material sciences. The region has been characterized by ore mining and processing for centuries and is still marked by larger companies associated from this sector, like the mining site in Erzberg and the VOEST Alpine. Since 1960 it is affected by processes of structural change and is facing a loss of population, which negatively affects social infrastructures, mostly in peripheral areas, triggering an economic and social downturn in the region. In the development and tourism strategy mining heritage plays an important role. A major Unique Selling Point (USP) is the Erzberg, one of the few public accessible surface mines of its kind in Europe, which also hosts the annual motocross event ‘Erzbergrodeo’. Next to cultural monuments related to mining, 14 museums display aspects of the culture and industries of the area. Also, a range of sportsrelated offers are available. Yet the region has lost its once important position on the regional tourism market due to a lack of investment in infrastructures and competition in domestic market.