Mountain tourism in Colorado doesn't exist in a bubble — around the world, there are similar communities facing similar issues, and every couple of years, they get together at a congress focusing on snow and mountain tourism to share information on successful business models, innovation, the impact of climate change and tourism marketing.
Climate change has been a huge topic for mountain resorts in the European Alps, where a number of low-elevation ski areas have already closed. As a result, that country's federal government has become actively involved in helping mountain resorts develop a climate adaptation strategy, with a focus on enhancing summer activities.
The industry is generally optimistic that mountain towns can sustain themselves as the climate changes because of the dynamic nature of the tourism industry, and that there will be important opportunities for tourism to reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change
But there is also some evidence that some local tourism operators may be overestimating their adaptive capacity (e.g., capacity to make snow under the warmest scenarios).
This year's edition of the conference is set for April 9 - 10 in Andorra, with leading international experts discussing new strategies to be adopted for mountain tourism, with a special focus on the summer season, best practices for the development of new products for the summer season, and emerging mountain tourism destinations.
We will also have a look at successful mountain resorts, the value of icons in tourism development and marketing, the large nature theme parks in Europe and the USA, and the growth of sports related to natural areas.
Here's a quick rundown of past Snow and Mountain Tourism sessions:
- The first edition of the Congress, in 1998, was held in Escaldes-Engordany, under the name of The World Congress on Snow Tourism and Winter Sports. It brought together some 150 participants from 24 countries and served as a starting point for subsequent editions. Together the participants analysed the situation of snow destinations, and reflected on the future prospects of the sector.
- In the second edition of the Congress, in 2000, the participants analysed the new trends in tourism management and the impact of technological and social development on the future of snow tourism. The event brought together more than 200 participants from 25 countries, representing private companies, professional organisations and government bodies and it was held in the parishes of Encamp, Escaldes-Engordany and Sant Julià de Lòria.
- In April 2002, congress attendees of the event’s third edition sought possible solutions to various exogenous threats to the future of snow fields such as global warming, the fragility of the natural environment, the changing consumer trends of the market and the creation of new products. This edition was held in the parishes of Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra la Vella and Encamp.
- In 2005, the Communes, the Government and the WTO agreed to extend the theme of the Congress to include year-round mountain activities and give each edition a particular theme, turning it into the World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism as it is today. Thus, the fourth edition of the Congress in 2005, held in Canillo, focused on innovation and mountain tourism.
- In 2008, the fifth edition, hosted by Encamp, focused on the impact of climate change on mountain destinations. The 240 congress attendees from all over the world had the opportunity to examine and discuss topics as diverse as the future of ski resorts, the impact of climate change on sporting events and the creation of new products adapted to the new environment.
- The sixth edition of the Congress, held in Ordino in 2010, focused on ways to attract new customers to mountain destinations by creating unique experiences, using ICT to distribute information, and improve productivity and profitability. The event received 344 international delegates.
- In 2012 it was the turn of La Massana. The seventh edition of the Congress, under the title Mountain Tourism 2.0 New Strategies for Success, examined the use of the latest technologies applied to tourism. It was the most popular edition in the history of the Congress, with more than 400 participants from 27 countries.