The planet is becoming more vulnerable every day and everyone must be an agent of change to avoid the worst. Sustainable development issues are present in all sectors, particularly the travel sector where carbon emissions are huge. In the mountains, the dangers are more important because nature is at the heart of what tourists go there. With the Olympics paradoxical in Saudi Arabia in 2029, it is imperative to rethink recreational consumption, at the dawn of a new climate age, while bookings for winter in the mountains are booming.
Passionate travelers for the upcoming season
In a current more than tense economic context, the French are worried about their future. between gasoline shortages and accelerating inflation, natural resources are at risk; You’ve never felt like escaping from everyday life so much. As proof, 4 out of 10 French people * are still planning to go on vacation this winter. As many would like Change their holiday habits For 2023: 77%* are ready to choose housing heated to a maximum of 19°C, and 40%* are in favor of lockdown Heated outdoor swimming pools and 22%* for stopping Snow cannons. From an international point of view, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has many consequences, including rising electricity prices that affect the daily lives of French people as purchasing power decreases.
This winter, Sunweb – a ski tour operator – recorded an 11% increase in bookings on ski slopes with a massive appetite for the English market (+150%) making their tours impossible at the end of 2021 due to the restrictions. Covid related. The Germans, the Dutch and then the Belgians and the French are following the same positive trend with reservations increasing by 5 to 15% so far. The average basket also recorded an increase of 8%, which more or less follows the curve of price increase due to inflation. It’s worth noting that travelers seem to be measuring their spending because the cheapest resorts seem to be registering the strongest growth in terms of bookings right now, such as Avoriaz, Les Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez, le Corbier, Valloire, Superdévoluy or Valfréjus. It is also interesting to note that hotel bookings highlight this year with the growth in 4-star accommodation, which widely attracts international clients in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. If bookings are going well for the start of the 2022-23 winter season, it is worth reviewing the various measures taken by mountain tourism professionals in favor of a widely acclaimed yet still very fragile ecosystem.
Initiatives of tourism professionals
After the first seven months of the Covid crisis, in October 2020, 16 environmental commitments were drawn up by ski area operators in order to reduce their environmental impact. It is divided into 4 themes: climate and energy (particularly with the advent of hydrogen snow machines), water and agriculture, landscapes, and waste. This initiative aims to mobilize all players in the sector in order to reduce the carbon footprint of winter sports, preserving as much as possible the natural space that is the mountain.
Mountain signs provide a framework for initiatives that resorts take to preserve the natural area and reduce pollution, as well as to empower vacationers.
- green snowflake labelEnsures sustainable commitment to mountain tourism destinations.
- Green Globe LabelIt is the largest environmentally responsible label on an international level.
- Mountain Label 2040It aims to prepare the future of the mountainous regions and their inhabitants.
- Label the green station: It brings together areas that offer meaningful stays, embrace nature-oriented green tourism and respect the environment.
- M’Arrange Ski Label: This naming allows you to choose all components of your vacation at 112 ski resorts: period, duration, dates and budget.
All these mountain signs can sometimes make you dizzy as there are so many of them. However, each has a well-defined essential role in maintaining the mountain environment. Also, these designations carry all their importance in educating vacationers, young and old.
The Alpe d’Huez resort is one example to follow in terms of environmental responsibility. By activating the various levers of motion, Alpe d’Huez “… Participates in an environmental approach because it is a shared duty, responsible for the challenges of the planet, discussing its field of work, territory, and mountain area. According to Fabrice Botet, general manager of SATA (station operator). Alpe d’Huez is the first station where the operator has started a collaboration with EDF in order to obtain information on the energy expenditures of the station. Thanks to this subsidy, a 15% decrease in total annual consumption has been recorded. In terms of transportation, the resort does everything it can to prioritize easy transportation, such as shuttle buses, electric vehicles, and even eco-driving training for drivers of snow groomers or motorized vehicles. The municipality also has a hybrid shuttle for users and prefers cable transport and pedestrian paths to make the station as pedestrian as possible. Electric stations are also available to enhance the electric transportation of people.
Other resorts are following the movement, such as Avoriaz or La Plagne, which are introducing initiatives to offset their heavy carbon footprint. Finally, mobility issues at resorts are essential to keeping calm. Note that transportation to get to the mountains is just as important. In recent years, there has been a real growth in railway offerings in order to facilitate and reduce congestion in getting to stations.
What future for the mountains?
It is possible to move from the mountains to a more sustainable regional system, and the triad of society, environment and economy must be considered. These three factors are essential for a sustainable transition process. The transition to the mountain environment is due to several factors: rural exodus, competition among ski resorts, a change in tourist clients, a preference for recreational practices, and even an increase in telecommuting. These non-exhaustive factors dictate the adaptation of mountain lands towards a path of transition that is as sustainable as possible. Indeed, these vast areas of high ecological quality often harbor lavish landscapes and exceptional biodiversity. Then a paradox emerges: while this environment is the source of human well-being, the latter is the source of the inconveniences that destroy this exceptional environment (such as mass tourism). However, recent decades, due to climate change, environmental awareness and reduced mountain visits in winter, have seen the emergence of sustainable initiatives or social innovations, suggesting that a transition from mountains to a more sustainable regional system is possible.
From a meteorological point of view (a key factor in mountains), a 25% loss of snow cover is expected by 2050. No French resort will have the capacity to offer skiing. Alpine skiing without artificial snow. Who says mountains of tomorrow, also says new clients… So this is about a younger population, who are very sensitive to the future of the planet and environmental issues. With aging clients, it is essential to offer youth-adapted offers and activities in order to ensure the financial sustainability of mountain professionals.
* : According to a BVA survey of maeva – Pierre & Vacances travel agency
**: According to G2A Consulting, which revealed the first booking trends at the beginning of October
*** According to the 2021 report of the Ministry of Ecological Transition available online
Tribune by Cecile Revol, CEO, Sunweb France
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