Mountain and snow tourism summit looks to sustainable future


The 11th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism concluded on 24 March 2022 with a shared commitment to centre innovation and promote investment in green infrastructure and low-impact travel experiences.

Held as part of the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022, the Congress focused on the recovery of tourism from COVID-19 and on building an approach to the future based on understanding the tourist’s needs while also preserving natural and cultural resources. Also on the agenda was ensuring the well-being of mountain communities and addressing issues such as innovation, sustainability and digital transformation.

Over 400 participants from 23 countries gathered in Andorra, which has organized the bi-annual event in partnership with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) since the Congress’ inception. Among this year’s participants were private and public sector representatives as well as the Ambassadors to Andorra or Spain of Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, France, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Spain, a show of the importance and opportunities for cooperation in this area. More than 200 participants also joined online.

At the Congress, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili highlighted the sector’s unique ability to provide hope in difficult times. “We can show the world that tourism stands united, that our sector can offer answers and generate the trust that we all need in such difficult times,” he said.

Prime Minister of Andorra Xavier Espot Zamora said, “The World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism, which is held biannually in Andorra, is an excellent forum for debate on the sustainable development of tourism. Our country works intensely with projects to improve the quality of tourist services, diversify the offers and maximize the experience of tourists.”

Programme Officer of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) Rosalaura Romeo together with UNWTO Chief of Tourism Market Intelligence and Competitiveness Sandra Carvão held a special session on the outcomes of the recent study Mountain tourism - Towards a more sustainable path, jointly developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, MPS and UNWTO. “Tourism development must go hand in hand with conserving mountain ecosystems, valuing culture and stimulating inclusive economic growth,” said Rosalaura Romeo.

A high-level panel on policies for mountain tourism stressed the importance of creating a strong adequate governance that brings together different levels of government and the private sector, addressing climate change and invest in infrastructure. Speakers included Jordi Torres Falcó, Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications of Andorra; Dauren Abayev, Minister of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan; Simon Zajc, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of Slovenia; Fernando Valdés, Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain; Sofia Zacharaki, Vice Minister of Tourism of Greece; and Massimo Garavaglia, Minister of Tourism of Italy.

In his concluding remarks, Minister of Tourism of Andorra Jordi Torres Falcó said, “As we have seen over these two days, only together and building synergies, can we make tourism recovery solid as the future of tourism sustainable in its three pillars – environmental, social and economic.”

Promoting and growing gastronomy and wellness emerged as key priorities for the future of mountain tourism. Further recommendations from the Congress included the need to monitor tourism in mountains and its impact to better manage resources and waste produced, respecting destinations’ carrying capacity and empower mountain communities.,

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