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United Nations study outlines route to creating a more sustainable mountain tourism model for people and the planet

United Nations study outlines route to creating a more sustainable mountain tourism model for people and the planet
December 30, 2021

A newly released joint study, Mountain tourism - Towards a More Sustainable Path, by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat suggests new ways to rethink mountain tourism in the aftermath of pandemic.

Released to coincide with this year’s International Mountain Day - observed annually on 11th December - which this year had the theme of sustainable mountain tourism, the study advises that, in the pre-Coronavirus world, poorly managed mountain tourism can negatively affect fragile ecosystems, endanger biodiversity, fail to ensure local people benefit from revenues and even threaten the identity of mountain communities themselves.

Identifying that before the pandemic, mountain tourism accounted for up to a fifth of tourism worldwide, the Mountain tourism - Towards a More Sustainable Path study suggests that there is a route to rethink mountain tourism.

In a feature, published online at Asian Leisure Business, Qu Dongyu is Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Zurab Pololikashvili is Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization, argue that “helping mountain regions to recover from the COVID-19 crisis requires actions in the short and longer term that extend beyond the tourism sector. It is our urgent responsibility to rebuild the industry more sustainably and equitably, in ways that provide long-term benefits for mountain peoples and their environments.

“We must act swiftly … as developing a year-round tourism destination in mountains can generate additional income, and is increasingly vital as the impacts of the climate crisis are reducing the lengths of the snow seasons.

“Mountains have much more to offer than snow sports in winter and hiking in summer. Archaeological, cultural and spiritual sites, picturesque villages, thermal baths, specialty products and gastronomy trails, and rare species of plants and animals all represent opportunities to diversify tourism.”

Mountain tourism - Towards a More Sustainable Path highlights the important role that tourism can play in valuing the natural and spiritual heritage of mountains, and the cultural diversity and traditional practices of mountain peoples. It features examples of innovation and best practices, as well as practical guidelines and recommendations for sustainable mountain tourism.

Click here to access the Mountain tourism - Towards a More Sustainable Path report.

Click here to read a feature by Qu Dongyu is Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Zurab Pololikashvili is Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization on this topic on the Asian Leisure Business website.

Images: The Mountain tourism - Towards a More Sustainable Path report (top) and the Philippines’ Cordillera region is cited by the report as a region that has benefitted from quick government tourism recovery support (below, credit: World Monuments Fund).

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