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Alpine tourism

Development contradictions and conditions for innovation
Andrea Macchiavelli
Cet article est une traduction de :
Le tourisme alpin [fr]


La forte croissance qu’ont connue les pays alpins dans les dernières décennies a surtout été fondée sur l’offre des activités du ski, avec comme conséquence, un massif développement immobilier et la multiplication d’infrastructures et de pistes. Aujourd’hui, le marché du ski semble arriver à saturation, la Convention alpine a mis un frein à la poursuite du développement des domaines skiables et on observe donc avec intérêt la diversification de l’offre soutenue par l’innovation. Après avoir rappelé les facteurs de changement en cours les plus significatifs dans le tourisme montagnard, l’article présente une grille interprétative de l’évolution des destinations touristiques alpines, identifiant les phases qui ont caractérisé son développement. Ensuite, l’article propose une réflexion sur certaines conditions qui peuvent favoriser l’innovation dans le tourisme alpin, ainsi que sur les contradictions qui accompagnent souvent ces conditions. Dans la plupart des cas l’innovation est le résultat d’un processus qui a été lancé et qui s’est développé au sein de la communauté alpine, souvent favorisé et soutenu par des institutions nationales et internationales, et grâce auquel les difficultés structurelles qui ont déjà été abordées précédemment ont pu être surmontées avec succès.

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Notes de la rédaction

Translation: Brian Keogh, Andrea Macchiavelli

Texte intégral

1Over the last fifty years, alpine tourism has experienced a spectacular increase in visitor numbers, leading to the virtual saturation of certain mountain tourist destinations, and in particular winter sports areas. In recent decades, the consequences of this strong growth, the effects of change in the world tourism market as well as social and cultural changes have resulted in a number of problems for alpine tourism, problems that are encouraging the search for innovation. After a review of the most significant factors in the changes currently taking place in mountain tourism, we will present a grid for interpreting the life cycle of alpine tourist destinations and then examine not only the conditions that may favour innovation in alpine tourism but also the development contradictions that often accompany these conditions.

Problems facing alpine destinations

2Compared with other sectors of the economy in the western world, tourism has not suffered from stagnation, either because of increasing demand from the emerging countries (Asia and the countries of Eastern Europe), or because of improvements in technology and organisation that have significantly encouraged the growth of mobility (for example, declining air transport costs and the phenomenon of low cost flights).

3However, over the last decade, the growth of mountain tourism in all the alpine countries has been much more difficult, particularly in the summer season. Thus the editorial of the August issue of “Montagne Leaders” observes that “in France, the number of visitors to mountain areas is declining each year. As a summer destination, the mountains have now fallen behind the coast, the countryside and the city (translation)” (Drapier, 2008).

4In certain countries, this is reflected in a clear decline, as can be seen in figure 1 which shows the number of hotel visitor nights in the alpine regions of several European countries.

Fig. 1: Number of hotel visitor nights in the alpine regions of certain European countries 1990-2007

Fig. 1: Number of hotel visitor nights in the alpine regions of certain European countries 1990-2007

Index 1990=100.

ASTAT, Institut provincial de Statistique de Bolzano.

5The reasons for this decline are varied and have been the subject of considerable analysis by specialists (Macchiavelli, 2006). However, we shall review them here, albeit briefly, since they form the basis for determining the need for innovation in alpine tourist destinations. Figure 2 presents a synthesis of the main factors involved.

Fig. 2: The difficulties of mountain tourism

Fig. 2: The difficulties of mountain tourism

Natural and demographic factors

6The climate is obviously one of the main factors determining a region’s potential for winter tourism (Macchiavelli, 2004). Thus, the forecast rise in future temperatures is certainly not encouraging, even though the abundant snowfalls of recent years seem to belie certain catastrophic predictions. Nevertheless, the climate is characterised by considerable variability and it is therefore important to take every possibility into account: an increase in temperatures would mean a lack of snow in low altitude resorts, making it difficult to maintain snow on the ski runs. The problem seems less serious for the high altitude resorts which, according to surveys, should continue to receive sufficient snowfall, ensuring adequate snow cover for skiers.

7Lack of suitable terrain imposes limits on the size of resorts and their ability to create new ski areas: the alpine region has now reached a point of saturation and the Alpine Convention has put a brake on the further development of ski areas (CIPRA, 1998 and 2002). It is essentially the small resorts that are demanding more space for expansion projects, while for the large resorts the problem is mainly one of creating links to provide a more extensive “network” of ski runs.

8Population ageing is resulting in a reduction in the potential market during the winter season. The declining birth rate and the increase in the older sections of the population are forcing marketing managers to consider targeting groups other than those traditionally linked to winter sports and to make sure that their demands are satisfied through new infrastructures and services. In addition to providing traditional winter sports activities, the winter resort must now cater to a clientele that is not so young by providing activities more in keeping with their physical capacities.

Market factors

9Globalisation, through the opening up of new markets, is one of the factors that has had the greatest influence on tourism development, including that of the alpine region, in that today it is easy to reach a large number of new destinations. Competition (Keller et al., 2002) has greatly increased over recent years. For the developing resorts this has often meant new markets and new possibilities to attract tourists, but in the case of mountain resorts it has sometimes led to intense competition that has been difficult to support. The increasing development of areas of leisure activities has brought to the fore new holiday destinations which have been made more accessible by decreasing transport costs and travel time. The alpine resorts have thus had to face heightened competition with an offer that has already reached maturity and a product, namely skiing, that is losing its competitiveness in terms of costs and the special characteristics that initially helped it make resorts successful (Weiermair, Pikkemaat, 2005).

10Demand has also undergone substantial changes in recent years, changes due both to the behaviour and expectations of tourists and to the type of activities practised. Tourists are now more used to travelling and demand very high standards of quality, which not all winter sports resorts are equipped to provide. The trend is increasingly towards “all-inclusive” products or package holidays, in contrast with the typical fragmentation of the mountain environment. Furthermore, tourists are becoming increasingly unpredictable and autonomous in their decisions, creating a factor of considerable uncertainty. Indeed, globalisation has contributed to a more fragile relationship between resorts and their clientele, since the latter have the possibility of experimenting with new destinations. In this way, operators are no longer guaranteed a stable clientele for the entire season. In addition, there is a certain trend towards shorter holidays, even if they are more frequent during the year.

11With regard to clientele behaviour in the resorts, tourists seem to be more interested in activities that promote personal well-being, health and relaxation, as opposed to the sports activities demanding greater physical effort. The trend is to move away from sports activities to activities more oriented to play or fun, and to more “emotional” activities. There is an increasing demand for products that are accessible to everyone, are fun, or related to getting fit, and that satisfy a growing need for an emotional experience (Macchiavelli, 2004).

12The saturation of western markets has resulted in the search for new markets (Cioccarelli, 2003). In the case of the Alps, the most interesting region is that of Eastern Europe. Here is a market that is still young, is beginning to open up to tourism, and needs a policy of targeted marketing. The new market is not yet familiar with winter sports and its rules and therefore requires special attention because it tends not to want to be considered as a traditional market. For those working in the tourism industry, it nevertheless represents an interesting market because it is dealt with largely through tour operators and is therefore less dependent on climatic conditions.

13The fact that this is a market in which there are numerous intermediaries provides a good opportunity for resort operators to enjoy greater certainty, catering to a clientele that is less dependent on climatic conditions.

Structural factors

14Among the obstacles that mountain areas must overcome to compete as a tourist destination, a certain number are strongly related to a series of factors inherent to their cultural and operational conditions. First, there is the attitude of the local mountain population toward economic and tourism development. The culture of mountain dwellers is based on a strong attachment to the local area. Often this has given rise to hostile behaviour toward not only those from the outside but also those from bordering valleys who are considered as competitors rather than allies. Hence the difficulties in setting up local partnerships for the construction of an integrated resort and a global product offering. Local residents are observed to be less amenable to change, a situation that acts as a cultural brake on the need to innovate. This is found particularly among the indigenous population and in regions which have less opportunity for dialogue and exchange with the outside.

15It is this situation, in fact, that often creates difficulties when there is a need to respond quickly and appropriately to changes taking place in the market. Organisational and strategic innovations may be necessary to provide the flexibility to face the challenges imposed by the market.

16In addition, among those working in mountain activities, it is often harder to find the management culture and entrepreneurial spirit necessary for developing an efficient system of management and a strategic vision. The latter is in most cases provided by large firms, which are generally very rare in alpine regions. This makes long-term economic development more problematic and creates substantial dependence on private and public actors from outside the region.

17The presence of a large number of family-run micro-businesses, in both the accommodation sector and services, raises problems from the point of view of management and organisation. While this situation creates a more intimate environment and more “human” relationships, it also has the disadvantage of being less efficient in terms of managing the firms and the destination area as a whole. Indeed, there is a real difficulty in obtaining economies of scale enabling a reduction in fixed costs. As a result, firms are less productive and prices tend to be higher (Koellreuter, 2000; Keller, 2002; Bartaletti & Vavassori, 2002). It is interesting to note that in the 1990s the Economic Research Institute of Bolzano demonstrated that hotels needed at least 60 beds to be profitable. However, at this time, in the Haut Adige region of Italy, the average size of hotels was around 35 beds. This means that hotels were operating thanks to a high level of management flexibility. The comparative economic disadvantage of firms located in mountain areas has been extensively dealt with in the literature on alpine economies and is attributable partly to the small size of firms and partly to their physical marginality, resulting in higher management costs. The consequences are many, particularly at the economic level, because the difficulty in realising economies of scale leads to lower productivity. This in turn implies higher costs and consequently higher prices. Such firms also tend to suffer in terms of quality, especially the quality of human resources at both the level of the firm and that of the profession (Waiermeir, 2000).

18It is precisely this fragmentation of a firm’s fabric that also leads to problems of integration and thus to the difficulty of guaranteeing unified and coordinated policies for a tourist destination. Integration and unified policies must be implemented by a far greater number of stakeholders and it is thus understandable why they are more difficult to put into place. The local area suffers not only in terms of image and the variety and quality of services, but also from an economic point of view in that the integration of firms could contribute to a reduction in management costs. When integration and understanding are lacking among operators, there is a serious risk of resources becoming dispersed because of measures that are poorly targeted and do not meet the real needs of the region as a whole (Smeral, 2000).

Proposal for an interpretation grid for the alpine tourist destination

19In light of the considerations outlined earlier, the interpretation of the evolutionary cycle of a tourist destination, as proposed by Richard Butler (Butler, 1980), is therefore more than ever relevant to “mountain tourism” areas, and has already been applied to “mountain winter sports” areas by Peter Keller (Keller, 2000). We therefore propose this interpretation in the context of the development of winter and summer tourism as a response to the expectations of demand.

Fig. 3: The life cycle of the alpine tourist destination through the development of the tourism offer

Fig. 3: The life cycle of the alpine tourist destination through the development of the tourism offer

Adaptation of Keller’s proposal.

20The graph attempts to show how the development path for the alpine tourism offer has in fact experienced three phases that coincide with as many expectations on the part of the user:

– In the initial phase (1950-60), the fundamental expectation was really that of “living the mountain experience” with the mountains representing a place that was different from the usual dwelling place. Essential infrastructure was therefore accommodation, beginning with hotels and then increasingly other forms of tourist habitat. The resources specific to the alpine destination (landscape, natural environment, climate, presence of other visitors, etc.) were therefore sufficient factors to attract the tourist (Bartaletti, 1994);

– The intermediate phase (1970-80) strengthened this potential of the alpine destination by allowing it to increasingly benefit from the mountains in winter. Winter attractions became the real key factor for tourism operators but also imposed the need for new, increasingly large and invasive infrastructures in terms of ski runs, ski lifts and accommodation. Tourist demand also developed and, with this, the services to satisfy it: in winter, downhill skiing, and thus a sports orientation, and in summer the development of sports and recreational activities to satisfy the motivations of the summer visitors to the mountains.

– The most recent phase (1990-2000) showed signs of crisis at both a quantitative and qualitative level. Quantitative development has in fact ended for a number of reasons: the virtual saturation of the space available for the extension of ski areas, considerably increased environmental sensitivity, the variety of alternatives now available to the tourist that tend to distribute demand among more destination areas, even though total demand has risen considerably. Another factor has been the changing tastes of tourists who demand more entertainment, more relaxation, more well-being and less physical effort, fewer rules, and less continuity. They are increasingly interested in living an experience and in activities that provide emotions, as long as such activities do not take up too much time, are intense and can easily be renewed (Bourdeau, 2007).

21This then is the context in which the problem of innovation in the alpine destination has to be dealt with. Future measures must take into account the expectations of demand, though this does not deny the potential of the present facilities (ski runs, structures, reception facilities, services). Instead, it requires using them increasingly to satisfy users who frequently and quickly change their own relationship with the resources available.

Innovation: conditions and contradictions

22Innovation does not only depend on the capacity for management and organisation; there is above all a cultural dimension in that innovation develops when conditions are present for a change in behaviour with respect to the situation to be dealt with. For this reason, we identify certain conditions without which it is difficult to expect an innovation process to emerge. At the same time, we will attempt to identify the contradictions that the absence of these conditions has produced in the development of the alpine tourism offer.

Innovation must bring about an increase in productivity

23Compared with other production activities, tourism has difficulty in reaching conditions for high productivity because of the strong impact of human resources. Furthermore, mountain tourism suffers even more in this respect than other forms of tourism.

24The conditions of marginality, a management culture that is less present among operators, a greater fragmentation of the product offered and a certain reluctance to accept change and innovation are all factors that make it more difficult to attain conditions conducive to high production levels. For the entrepreneur, this translates into higher management costs.

25Increasing productivity means generating more “output” with the same “input”; that is, more value with the same productive resources. This is absolutely indispensable even in the production activities that are developing in mountain areas, because otherwise the costs of the alpine offer (and therefore the prices) could not compete with those of other tourist activities. This is why increased productivity is a vital condition for the very survival of mountain areas, enabling inhabitants to continue working and living there.

26In mountain areas, over recent decades, the task of ensuring increased productivity has been taken on mainly by the tourism sector, which has progressively, but rapidly, replaced agricultural activities, which are particularly low in productivity. The change that has taken place is related to two phenomena: the use of real natural resources by an increasingly large section of the population and the development of technology that has made this possible. The slopes of the Alps have been transformed into ski areas, which have been invaded by an increasing number of visitors, the democratisation of the automobile has made it easier to access tourism areas, and the multiplication of ski lift facilities has made it possible to go up and down the slopes with increasing rapidity.

27Access for an increasingly large section of the population to the resources offered by mountain areas, which until then were reserved exclusively for local residents or the elite, involved a more intensive use of resources, with visitors being attracted in both winter and summer. This use was sustained by an exchange agreement which in some areas provided mountain residents with a future income through job creation (where real tourism development occurred) while in others (and in certain cases this was preponderant) it merely provided a monetary bonus, mainly from property development. Thus in places where a little more forethought went into planning for potential future revenues, or where the ownership of resources was in any case more divided and where the environment could less easily be modified, the conditions appeared for a sustainable use of resources (though the term “sustainable” was invented much later). In areas where these conditions did not appear, the negative effects of such a policy can today be observed: less interest from tourists, resulting in the decline of the destination area.

Innovation: a different concept of creativity

28Frequently the concept of innovation is confused with that of creativity and sometimes even that of invention. Obviously these concepts have certain similarities, but they also have distinct differences. Creativity is a condition for producing innovation, but a creative idea remains just that unless it is applied. In the same way, an invention may be the result of a flash of genius, but to become an effective innovation it must be translated into concrete form. Creativity means inventing new things, innovation is to make new things: “ideas are useless unless used and the proof of their value is in their implementation” (Peters, Waterman, 2005; 274).

29An innovative idea must therefore be measured in terms of its context and innovation becomes effective if it is the result of a process which involves components and objects that are different from the reality in which one is operating. If we examine the real world, it can be seen that we do not lack creative individuals, but rather innovators. Too often we tend to think that creativity automatically leads to innovation. However, it frequently happens that creative people transmit the responsibility of implementing their ideas to others, thereby blocking the process themselves.

30To be an innovator, you have to consider all the factors in play. The risk is in extracting the object of innovation from its context and in not considering the effects that it could have on other aspects of the reality in which one is operating. When these effects are negative, they reduce the impact of the actual innovation.

31If we consider the development of alpine tourist destinations, it can be seen that this is exactly what happened when, thanks to the availability of new technologies (ski lift facilities, automobiles enabling visitors to quickly access mountain areas), unbridled development took place which reduced the capacity of other resources in the region to attract by having a negative impact not only on the environment but also on the actual experience of the tourist. Innovation in this case was measured in terms of only some of the expectations of the community and, with time, demonstrated its own shortcomings.

Innovation is born when one is capable of listening and responding to a need

32Listening means taking into consideration all the questions raised by society; in the case of the tourism experience, this means taking into account the expectations manifest by the different types of tourists. When one remains anchored to the same principles and models, innovation cannot develop and there is a tendency to always propose the same solutions, even if tourism demand would be interested in finding others.

33It is therefore necessary to define emerging needs and to use resources in a different manner from the past in order to meet these needs. Tourists’ needs evolve rapidly depending on their living conditions, mobility and work. What was not a need yesterday, has become one today. The demand for the natural environment, well-being, cultural activities and emotional experiences, for example, has appeared over recent decades as living conditions and styles have evolved.

34The great challenge facing all the alpine tourist areas is firstly that of knowing how to deal with changing demand and to interpret new requirements and, secondly, how to reinterpret available resources in the light of new expectations of demand. Let us take the case of an alpine destination that has been innovative in the product it offers tourists by successfully developing canoeing on a stream that runs through it. What are the reasons behind such success? On the one hand, the ability to identify an emerging demand for canoeing as an activity, which did not exist beforehand, and, on the other, the capacity to recognise the stream as being a resource for this new tourist activity. This involves the reinterpretation of the resource (the stream) which has probably always been a resource for this area (as a simple component of the landscape or as a place to fish), but which today has been coupled with a new need. Innovation in alpine destinations therefore requires having the ability to interpret, in a dynamic way, not only needs but also resources. That which yesterday was not a resource, could become one today.

35It is exactly this capacity to interpret changes in the real world that is often lacking among those working in mountain tourism today and is creating difficulties for adopting innovative models. Numerous ski resorts today provide a good example of this: although the expectations of the tourist regarding leisure activities on the snow have not disappeared, today they are expressed in a different way (for example, tourists want more entertainment and less sport, more emotions and fewer rules) and there are even some expectations that cannot be met by winter activities. Insisting on using models which do not take into account these new demands runs the risk of exposing the destination to the risk of declining visitor numbers.

Innovation is above all dependent on people

36In the second chapter of his “Theory of economic development”, Schumpeter describes innovation as a major factor in development. Development represents the fruit of the creative initiative of the entrepreneur who in fact only becomes an entrepreneur if he knows how to recognise new possibilities for growth and if he introduces new combinations of materials and means of production. Entrepreneurs have a fundamental role in the innovation process, because it is strongly influenced by their capacity to “make new things or to make things that are already being made but in a new way (translation)” (Schumpeter, 1977; 106). The key element in innovation is therefore “man”, who develops knowledge, uses instruments and adopts solutions. The entrepreneur is the person who synthesizes this capacity and potential best, but from this point of view every worker ends up by being an “entrepreneur”, at least with regard to the resources available to him in his work. It therefore becomes obvious that an organisation willing to innovate requires people with a creative and entrepreneurial mind at every level of the organisation. Above all, it needs people endowed with three fundamental qualities, which by interacting and mutually influencing each other give life to what is defined as the “creative personality” (Terrace in Gronhaug & Kaufmann, 1988): capacity, skills and motivation.

37The importance of motivation should be underlined. Only those persons strongly motivated to seek alternatives to existing solutions can produce innovative solutions. For this reason, the qualities of the person who produces innovations are elements that define the overall person. Vignali reminds us that “the innovative firm is the firm which is based on people and the intelligence and will of men” and that “the winning firm is the firm that counts on the individual, not only by reducing him or her to an element for increasing productive capacity but on the individual in his totality (translation)” (Vignali, 2008; 26). In short, to innovate, firms need not only research and development centres (though these are necessary), but above all people endowed with curiosity, the ability to listen and to exchange ideas, a sense of responsibility, trust, risk taking capacity and flexibility.

38Mountain areas certainly have these types of people, but experience shows that there is a tendency for such areas to run two types of risk: that of pretending to be self-sufficient and, at the other extreme, that of importing outside models without proper reflection on their suitability for the local context, such as when tourist destinations are developed that are similar to the holiday villages in coastal resorts, which make very little contribution to the local economy. The first risk materialises when those working in mountain tourism are faced with significant market changes and believe themselves to be self-sufficient in resolving their problems, tending to ignore a more scientific approach with contextual and market analyses. This phenomenon is especially frequent in the smaller destinations where appropriate analyses and proper measures are felt to be less of a requirement. The result is often a series of bad choices and untimely investments. One only has to think, for example, of the number of conference centres that have been built without any possibility of their being productive. The situation could have been avoided by conducting a simple market survey.

39The second risk, on the other hand, materialises when models are borrowed from other situations, without taking into account the urban, cultural and human context into which they are being imported. This is a frequent case with respect to not only property and development models but also management models. A classic example here is the development of the numerous purpose-built ski resorts in France in the 1970s and 1980s, which were far removed from the alpine culture, landscape and life of the local community. Very often too they were managed by operators from outside the region, and it was they who reaped the greater part of the economic benefits.

Innovation needs a competitive context but also cooperation

40The two concepts, cooperation and competition, are not necessarily contradictory. Cooperation and collaboration force people working in mountain tourism to come together, to confront each other, and this promotes healthy competition, which leads to improvement in the quality of a firm’s product, thus contributing to improvement in the quality of the region’s overall offer.

41“Cooperate to be competitive” therefore means that a destination’s operators must act together to be more competitive than other tourist destinations, but also to increase their own individual competitiveness through confrontation.

42Cooperation is thus an essential element in the innovation process for an alpine destination, particularly in a destination area where there are many stakeholders and where nobody has the size or strength to define the choice of others (Faure, 2002). In such a context, leadership plays a fundamental role in that it is vital in ensuring that the “system”, based on the voluntary collaboration of the area’s different actors (public and private), functions correctly. This is an essential condition for effective governance.

43All the alpine tourist destinations founded on the “community model”, that is on a plurality of independent actors, are conditioned by this capacity to be part of a system. Their success strongly depends on their ability to manage the system’s growth. This generally happens when leadership is influential and credible to all involved.

44Alpine communities are characterised by a strong feeling of belonging and unity, encouraged, particularly in the past, by more intensive relationships within the community and less frequent external relationships. This might suggest that even from an economic point of view collaboration would be easier. In reality, this is not the case: alpine communities are more oriented toward community life and solidarity than operational collaboration, so that the feeling of belonging does not always succeed in translating into concrete communal projects. The divisions between the valleys and even between the towns and villages, and a strong chauvinistic feeling, often prevent the development of a unified strategy, a need which is sometimes mentioned but not responded to in terms of effective instruments and methods of implementation. The creation of integrated tourism systems (in Italy, a law has made them obligatory) constitutes an interesting test bench. Faced with the necessity of confronting the national and international markets with a unified system, many alpine valleys are not yet ready to give up their total autonomy to assert their belonging to a larger and more extensive tourist area, and in most cases this penalises them. In this context, the scope for innovation ends up being more limited than elsewhere and outside intervention is sometimes necessary. Thus innovation tends to develop mainly where there is a willingness to collaborate because this provides the conditions for the transmission of know-how and experimentation with new solutions. It should be added that this problem is not exclusive to the alpine regions, but in the Alps the limited availability of financial and human resources, and greater difficulties in the decision-making process, make it impossible. This then is why the alpine destinations (Flagestad et al., 2005) operating with the “corporate model” (where tourist property ownership and services are managed by a single company) end up by being more competitive, thanks mainly to their greater capacity for innovation.


45The difficulties in developing innovative processes in a rapidly changing tourism context is not a problem specific to alpine destinations. Mountain sites, however, are more often confronted with such difficulties because their structure is characterised by conditions that do not facilitate the processes of adaptation, at least not with the rapidity that would be required. Indeed, innovation tends to develop more rapidly where there is a concentration of financial resources, which allow investment in research and experimentation, where human resources are more qualified and where decision-making processes are fluid. The latter is difficult when there are numerous decision-makers, as is often the case in the alpine valleys.

46However, over recent years numerous alpine localities have witnessed important innovations in the tourism field: from the creation of new outdoor sports activities (rafting, canoe kayaking, mountain biking, adventure parks, etc.) wine-tasting and gastronomic routes (cheese routes, for example) to the development of cultural heritage activities, such as eco-museums, and many other innovations in organisation, management and marketing. In certain cases, intervention in the alpine region from the outside has played a decisive role, but in the majority of cases innovation has been the result of a process launched and developed within the alpine community, often encouraged and supported by national and international institutions, thanks to which the structural difficulties mentioned earlier have been successfully overcome. Compared with the preceding decades when innovation was induced largely by the technology that enabled the development of skiing, today it is mainly oriented towards diversification of the use of free time in mountain areas and towards products based on management models more adapted to sustainable development, an element which is beginning to be recognised as indispensable by those working in the tourism profession in alpine areas. In this perspective, the level of technological development reached today is giving rise to conditions that did not exist before, enabling those working in mountain tourism to become more involved as actors in its development in a way not previously possible.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: Number of hotel visitor nights in the alpine regions of certain European countries 1990-2007
Légende Index 1990=100.
Crédits ASTAT, Institut provincial de Statistique de Bolzano.
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Fig. 2: The difficulties of mountain tourism
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Titre Fig. 3: The life cycle of the alpine tourist destination through the development of the tourism offer
Crédits Adaptation of Keller’s proposal.
Fichier image/jpeg, 174k
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Andrea Macchiavelli, « Alpine tourism »Journal of Alpine Research | Revue de géographie alpine [En ligne], 97-1 | 2009, mis en ligne le 23 juin 2009, consulté le 25 avril 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Andrea Macchiavelli

Université de Bergame ;

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