The Future of Mountain Tourism: Sustainability and Innovation
The 4th edition of the UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference (2-5 March 2019, Berchtesgaden, Germany) highlighted the need for collective efforts in overcoming current challenges that mountain destinations are facing to adapt to new consumer trends and market changes, to address seasonality by diversifying tourism products in an innovative manner while protecting natural and cultural resources.
Organized jointly with the Berchtesgadener Land Region, with the support of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference brought together more than 270 participants from 30 countries.
Opening the event, UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, recalled that mountains entail many opportunities to promote inclusion, regional development and better lives through tourism. He also stressed that mountain tourism needs to be planned, developed, governed and managed in a sustainable manner.
Thomas Bareiss, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism stated that “Tourism is a major factor of the economy in the Alpine region. I am glad that the World Tourism Organization, a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, is holding a conference in this beautiful region of Germany for the first time. The fourth Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference in Berchtesgaden will deliver a significant boost to mountain tourism and build a bridge between Europe and Asia. I am convinced that innovation, digitisation and mobility are some of the key issues for tourism going forward. I therefore welcome this opportunity for people from all around the world to share their ideas – in the interest of progressive tourism in our mountainous regions.”
Hubert Aiwanger, Deputy Bavarian Minister-President and State Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy emphasized that “Tourism is an important sector in Bavaria‘s economy. Last year we welcomed over 39.1 million guests, among them nearly 10 million from abroad. Overall, we recorded almost 100 million accommodations. Hosting this year‘s UNWTO in Berchtesgaden gives us a chance to show the diversity and quality of Bavaria’s tourism. Both UNWTO and Bavaria stand for an environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism strategy. Thus, Bavaria is the right place for this important conference“.
The local host of the conference, district Chief Executive of the Berchtesgadener Land, Georg Grabner, was very pleased “that that the world of tourism gathers in Bavaria, here in Berchtesgaden. With the Berchtesgaden National Park with Watzmann mountain and lake Königssee and as a UNESCO-Biosphere-Reserve we focus strongly on sustainability, especially in terms of tourism. I wish all visitors of the UNWTO-conference a pleasant stay with interesting impressions in the middle of the magnificent mountain scenery of the Berchtesgadener Land.”
Conducted by the Editor in Chief of National Geographic Germany, Jens Schröder, the conference combined a series of six panel debates and four lectures steered by 16 international speakers from Europe and Asia. Sustainability, digitalization and mobility, the diversification of mountain destinations in segments such as culture, health and sports and the pressing need of investments for sustainable infrastructure and innovation in product and marketing, were the main issues discussed at the conference.
All these themes will be taken forward to the next World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism in 2020, bi-annually held in Andorra.