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NWTO: Mountain tourism now accounts for up to 16 per cent of international tourist arrivals


Mountain tourism represents between nine and 16 per cent of all international tourist arrivals worldwide as people head for sport, health and wellbeing travel.

The figure comes from a report, by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which shows that, in 2019 alone, there were between 195 and 375 million “mountain tourists”.

The report, Understanding and Quantifying Mountain Tourism, is the first of its kind and was compiled to tackle the lack of mountain tourism-related data.

Mountains are home to around 1.1 billion people, some of them among the poorest and most isolated in the world.

Mountain tourism has the potential to boost the incomes of these local communities and help preserve their natural resources and culture – but the scarcity of data has made it difficult to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of this important segment.

According to UNWTO, measuring the volume of visitors to mountains represents the first “vital step” towards unlocking the potential of the sector.

UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “With the right data, we can better control the dispersal of visitor flows, support adequate planning, improve knowledge on visitor patterns, build sustainable products in line with consumer needs, and create suitable policies that will foster sustainable development and make sure tourism activities benefit local communities.”

The report calls for concerted work to help raise awareness of the socio-economic importance of tourism in mountains and targeted policies to create jobs, support small and medium sized businesses and attract green investments in infrastructure and the digitalisation of tourism services.

Based around research carried out in 46 countries, it also shows that generating economic benefits, creating opportunities for local communities and developing sustainable products are the main motivations for mountain tourism development.

The sustainable development of mountain tourism was also identified as a means to help to spread tourism flows, tackle seasonality and complement existing tourist offerings.

To read the full report, click here.

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