The Alps played an essential role in transforming Tirol into a coveted holiday destination: in bygone times, mountain ranges and alpine passes were considered a hindrance for travellers and a harsh living environment for their inhabitants. Attitudes changed with the emergence of tourism from the 1800s, especially from the middle of the 19th century.
The mountains became a recreational area, while tourism advanced Tirol's economic development. Today it is one of the country’s most important industries. Almost 25,000 businesses rely directly on it for their livelihoods and 48,000 people are employed in tourism (on a full-time equivalent basis). Moreover, the industry acts as a significant driving force for other economic sectors, such as trade or handicrafts.