It was Gerhard Leeb from Villach/A who originally came up with the idea of founding the Alpine Town of the Year initiative. It was motivated by the idea of developing sustainable models to achieve harmony between the unique natural landscape of the Alps, economic activity and urban life. One of the main concerns was to put into practice the international set of agreements laid down by the Alpine Convention, and to raise the awareness of politicians and citizens alike for the sustainable development of the environment in which they live.
The Alpine Town of the Year project was founded in 1997 and, that same year, it first awarded the title to the Town of Villach for two years. In the years that followed, Villach assumed the sponsorship for the Alpine Towns of the Year. With the duties and tasks involved becoming increasingly complex and wide-ranging, the Alpine Town of the Year Community of Interests was founded in March 2003, thus establishing the activities on a more professional footing. For legal reasons the Community of Interests was then re-established as the Association Alpenstadt des Jahres e.V. - Ville des Alpes de l'Année - Città alpina dell'anno - Alpsko mesto leta in November 2006. The association is domiciled in Bad Reichenhal / D
The main focus of the activities of the "Alpine Town of the Year" Association is to assist and support each Alpine Town of the Year to develop projects and draw up a programme, and to carry out information and education work on the objectives of the Alpine Convention. Other activities include encouraging the exchange of information among Alpine Towns of the Year, and developing and expanding co-operation projects.