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How to support mountain tourism during the COVID-19 crisis? Get inspired by some initiatives

Many sectors are facing financial issues because of COVID-19 pandemic. The approaching summer raises the question of how to support the tourism sector, at a time when borders will probably remain closed in the next months, mobility will be reduced even within the same country and social distancing will constraint many tourism activities.

The situation is particularly worrisome for countries which economy strongly relies on tourism, with a high number of cancellations and worrying sales revenue. Mountain areas will face difficulties, with the shortened winter season due to the lockdown and an uncertain summer season. In Switzerland, tourism has been hit hard by the crisis and 17% of businesses of the sector will probably disappear, states the SAB – Groupement suisse pour les régions de montagnes.

To support the tourism sector, Europeans have been encouraged not to cancel their bookings but to postpone them for next year and have instead “staycations” this summer. This item of news aims at sharing experiences and inspiring other mountain businesses to help them overcome the current challenges.

 

How to maintain activity in mountain and rural tourism?

Home delivery from agritourism farmhouses, Italy

Farmers have to deal with obstacles in production and commercialisation since the start of the pandemic. Although support measures have been taken and initiatives created to help the sector in coping with the crisis, those having an agritourism farm are also affected by the cancellations of stays bookings and very limited on-farm sale, as testifies owners of the Raflazz farm in the Piemonte region. In some countries, agritourism is well developed, with various benefits: revitalisation of the territory, income economic diversification for farmers, promotion of regional gastronomic and cultural heritage, among others. To support agritourism during the pandemic, Cia-Agricoltori Italiani launched a home delivery service of “Sunday lunch” from agritourism farms. Prepared by Agrichef, the association of farmhouses, these traditional festive menus also come with ornamental plants thanks to an agreement with Italian floriculturists. A way to support both agritourism farmers and flowers producers.

Promoting mountains’ potential, France

To promote the potential of mountains among the French population, the association France Montagnes is circulating surveys among tourism offices in mountain areas. The association uses feedbacks from the ground to understand the current situation and promote regional destinations. The objective is not for everyone to rush to the same region this summer but rather to make people discover the unusual, fun, physical activities that mountains next doors offer. The collected information was compiled in a press kit disseminated to French media.

 

How to ensure health safety in the tourism sector?

“Destino Seguro” good practices for a safe tourism, Spain

In the Canton of Sierra de Albarracín, located in the Province of Teruel, tourism companies gathered in an association to exchange good practices. Active tourism guides, museums, hotels, guided tours operators and others collaborated to exchange good practices ensuring a “safe tourism”, based on governmental hygiene and social distancing recommendations. Their objective, once a majority of tourism operators have joined, is to propose safe tourism experiences to local tourists, and market the Canton as a “responsible tourism” area. Another objective is also to propose high quality tourism in this mountainous inland territory, as an alternative to mass tourism areas which, if allowed to reopen for the Summer, will probably slash prices to attract customers.

“Healing solutions for tourism challenge”, WTO

The World Tourism Organisation also launched the “Healing solutions for tourism challenge” to identify innovative solutions to support the tourism sector and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on businesses. Among the finalists are SmartOccupancy, a Spanish tool to better manage the flow of people in shops and MyStay, a Czech app to facilitate online check-in and check-out to limit physical contact if needed. Innovations selected as finalists are available here and the WTO will introduce the awarded ones during its online event on May 7, 2020.

Are you aware of a different initiative which can bring added value and support tourism businesses? Do not hesitate to share it with us, contact Blandine Camus!

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6 May 2020

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