Winter tourism in the European Alps: Is a new paradigm needed?
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SubjectWinter tourism; Ski resorts; Destination differentiation; Guest expectations; Product adaptation
Winter tourism in the Alps has been dominated, both in marketing and in academic publications, by an almost exclusive focus on winter sports activities, primarily on skiing. This paper shows that there exist other substantial markets for winter tourism in the Alps that have largely been ignored. Using results from a nationwide survey of German tourists and supplemented by primary research, numerous resorts/destinations and market segments are shown in a two-dimensional space. This multidimensional representation reveals that most Alpine winter tourism destinations are focusing on skiing and related winter sports (i.e. snowboarding). Yet a large share of the potential winter tourism market has other interests that are often not considered by destination developers as viable products. This paper offers evidence for reflection as resorts/destinations compete for a static or shrinking market while also facing the effects of external forces, primarily climate and demographic change. The future of many resort destinations in the Alps will depend on how they diversify and adapt to changing conditions. The face of winter tourism is changing and the European Alps are on the frontlines of the challenges brought by change.
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