Published on : Thursday, March 10, 2016
Over two days, snow and mountain tourism professionals held discussions on the theme “Sport and Adventure: A Promising Combination for Mountain Destinations”, analysing the prospects for the development of this segment. The 9th edition of the World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism, entitled “Mountainlikers”, took place in Andorra and was organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Government of the Principality of Andorra in collaboration with the municipality of Sant Julià de Lòria.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai noted: “Snow and mountain tourism has become a leading segment that opens up many opportunities for destinations, reflecting the importance of diversifying the supply of product offerings.”
“We understand the concept of tourism in a broader sense—as a matter of social cohesion. In winter we increase the population, which cultivates Andorran society in a way that makes it open to other cultures and to the rest of the world,” said Antoni Marti, Prime Minister of Andorra.
Sustainability, technology, the role of events and promotion were the main issues discussed at the Congress. The first day of the debate focused on good practices such as the use of sporting events as a promotional tool. In this regard, the Minister of Tourism and Trade of Andorra, Francesc Camp, announced the creation of a high-performance altitude training centre aimed at elite athletes.
Marketing tools linked to new technologies were also addressed at the Congress. 3-D trail maps, smart ski goggles, excursion-planning apps for Android and iPhone and image capture using drones were among the technologies discussed. Among the experiences presented, the Wikiloc platform, which enables users share locations of outdoor activities and routes through GPS tracking, generated a great deal of interest among the attendees.
Another focus of debate was the role of tourism in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
In this regard, Josep Miquel Vila Bastida, Mayor of Sant Julià de Lòria, said that “one of the objectives is sustainability in mountain areas through sport and adventure, striking a balance in three areas: preserving and enjoying the environment, investment and the prospect of returns, and risk and security in the search for exciting and fun experiences.”
The second day of the Congress prominently featured the Mountain Partnership, presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The conclusions of the Congress showed the high priority of the link between tourism and sport. They also emphasized the importance that tourists give to the intangible component of their travel experience.
With regard to the diversification of mountain destinations, spa tourism was highlighted as one of the segments that offer the greatest opportunities due to its links to the sporting world and to well-being.
As for potential target audiences and niche markets to be explored, the conclusions of the event highlighted the importance of younger travellers in sports tourism and that of various marketing tools, such as featuring athletes, to attract this audience.