Dolomeyes: Fear at first sight!

Say no to a “monstrous” summer:
“Dolomeyes” is keeping watch on mountain tourism

As we are entering a summer season that promises a large influx of tourists to the Dolomites World Heritage Site, the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation has launched a new communication campaign. The aim is to promote conscious use of water in high-altitude mountain huts and raise awareness about how to act responsibly in the mountains. The campaign was created in cooperation with the mountain hut managers, represented by various associations, and the local Dolomites mountaineering associations. The Dolomites are a fragile environment and the mountain managers have an important role – we want to help visitors understand how they can play their part.


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The aims of the campaign

It will be hard to miss the campaign, with the message being spread via videos, social media, the web, tutorials and local activities featuring the monstrous “Dolomeyes” (the eyes of the Dolomites). This character has been borrowed from the Dolomites narrative and represents the fear that disrespectful behaviour and attitudes towards the mountain environment might spoil the delicate Dolomites ecosystem. The campaign slogan, “Fear at first sight”, is a play on the idea of “love at first sight” usually associated with the Dolomites. The monster “Dolomeyes” calls to mind the image of the Wild Man of the Woods (Silvanus). From time immemorial, this fictitious character has loomed in the imagination of Alpine inhabitants and marks the symbolic point of encounter between wild and domesticated space, between man and nature. On an unconscious level, civilised mankind is frightened of him. His eerie countenance guards that ‘line in the sand’ over which disrespectful human behaviour must not step into the natural environment. This is how Annibale Salsa, member of the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, underscores the link between the campaign’s protagonist and the figure of the Wild Man of the Woods that we find in the cultural heritage of all the Alpine valleys.

The “Dolomeyes: Fear at first sight!” campaign was created by BrodoStudio of Udine and grew from the bottom up, as befitting the style of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation. A working group made up of mountain hut managers and representatives of mountaineering associations has worked long and hard to identify the messages to get across to visitors.

The changing face of growing attendance, increasingly international tourism, the mountain hut as a travel destination rather than a starting point, a lack of awareness regarding the limits and characteristics of the mountain environment and, finally, water: a resource that is as precious as it is scarce – these are the issues at the heart of the Dolomeyes project.

Visitors to the mountains often don’t understand the reality of the situation and inadvertently make requests that cannot be fulfilled, because the high-altitude environment obviously cannot offer all the comforts and the same pace of life that we are used to in the city. This is why it’s important to trigger a process of awareness on the part of people who frequent the mountains. Visitors who are aware of their surroundings don’t risk being disappointed, but instead can actively seek out and welcome the ‘limits’ imposed by the mountain environment, seeing them as an opportunity for an authentic and unique experience.

Water conservation is key

The mountain hut managers have requested that the responsible use of water as resource take precedence over the other topics. Water is a precious commodity and supplying it at high altitudes is a particularly difficult service to guarantee. Hikers who spend the night in mountain huts must therefore be made aware of the need to avoid inappropriate requests, such as being able to take more than one shower. Heightened awareness among guests can be a real help in the daily activities of the mountain hut managers because it reduces the risk of misunderstandings and increases the efficiency of resource management, all the more so during a period in which COVID-19 regulations make dialogue and mutual understanding between us and the hikers even more important.

Dolomeyes: tone of voice

With very little institutional language and a tone that is decidedly ironic and rich in parody, the campaign strays from the norm. Its message is inspired by some B movies and blockbusters of the 80’s and 90’s that have since become cult viewing. These are the origins of the fictitious character, Dolomeyes (“The Eyes of the Dolomites”), a frightening being who lives among the snow-covered rocks of the Dolomites – a mysterious creature who inhabits the snowy forests and defends the highest peaks. Dolomeyes has become the personification of the awareness and fears that we should always keep in mind when we are in the mountains. We hope you enjoy discovering this world and that it helps you reflect, maybe even bringing a smile.