Sustainable tourism

Mountain areas attract large numbers of visitors every year, drawn by the beauty of their natural sites, their rich cultural heritage and the wide range of outdoor activities on offer. The European Union's tourism policy complements the actions of the Member States, particularly in promoting the competitiveness of the sector. Euromontana promotes the exchange of knowledge on the subject and advocates for sustainable tourism models that contribute to the prosperity and resilience of mountain areas.

Valorising mountains in the tourism economy

Alongside agriculture, tourism is one of the main economic activities in mountain areas, which benefit from attractive heritage, landscapes and activities. In 2016, 13% of European citizens’ holidays were spent in the mountains. This attractiveness contributes to the prosperity of these regions through job creation and increased economic vitality. The OECD estimates that tourism accounts for 10-12% of the alpine labour market. If managed sustainably, tourism can contribute to regional development while preserving our natural and cultural heritage. Euromontana supports the development of sustainable tourism and calls for a better valorisation of the role of mountains in the European tourism sector.

We call for
  • Promoting the diversity of tourism products in European, national and regional strategies. In particular, we support the development of agrotourism, eco-tourism, accessible tourism and silver tourism, which make mountain tourism a real experience, enhance the value of local food products and create links with local communities.
  • Improving access to data through the EU Tourism Dashboard. Euromontana has long called for the creation of a European Tourism Observatory and welcomes the launch of the Dashboard in 2021. However, additional data is needed to identify key trends. We call for the inclusion of data on types of destinations, especially mountain and coastal, and types of offers, such as agrotourism, rural tourism or winter tourism.

Ensuring the resilience of tourism to climate change

Mountain tourism is a key driver of socio-economic development in mountain regions. However, destinations face a number of challenges to ensure the sustainability of the sector, in particular in terms of water and energy use, public transport to the last mile and the management of visitor flows in the most popular sites. In addition, the resilience of regions depends on their ability to cope with crises, including the climate crisis. Winter tourism is especially vulnerable to global warming. With temperatures rising by 2°C, it is estimated that 53% of Europe’s 2,234 ski resorts would face critical operational risks without artificial snow. This figure would rise to 98% with a temperature rise of 4°C. Against this backdrop, it is crucial for the sector to embrace a transition to more resilient models that are also more socio-economically and environmentally sustainable.

We call for
  • The implementation of sustainable transitions in mountain tourism towards diversification and a 4-season approach. We also call for the diversification of the mountain economy itself in areas heavily dependent on tourism.
  • The co-definition of transition strategies with mountain communities and on the basis of scientific climate projections. These strategies must be thought through well in advance in order to anticipate the possible effects of maladaptation.
  • The earmarking of funds for mountain areas in the post-2027 Cohesion Policy, which would support the sustainable transition of the tourism sector, including for the related jobs and skills, through the European Social Fund.