In the mountains: less impact and more awareness
The UNESCO Dolomites Foundation continues working with mountain hut managers, to study their needs in greater depth and to plan future strategies. The latest course especially for them took place last November in Val di Zoldo, and helped us develop some practical ideas on several fronts, including the issue of climate change.
The future at altitude
The work done by the mountain hut managers, and by the experts and moderators who attended, has been summarised in a policy document, to serve as a reference point in coming years for those working at high altitude. Just to cite a few examples: the group that worked on the theme of the relationship between the mountain huts and the Foundation’s network of quality producers expressed the need to improve the supply system, to join in promoting the “value chain” that links the local product to the mountain hut, to carry out a greater number of tastings, and to create “UNESCO Dolomites” menus as a way of promoting local excellence. The group that focused on improving hospitality proposed meeting the managers of weather forecast websites: to discuss how to reduce the influence of certain types of message about visiting the high mountains, and how to re-introduce the “Alte Vie” (High Trails). The group discussing the management of bookings approved the idea of developing systems that would allow one to provide hikers with useful information on the basis of their particular “profile”. They also supported proposals to develop shared systems for multiple bookings, for example for the Alte Vie, and to give timely notice of openings and closings – given that weather conditions can change rapidly and can lengthen or shorten the tourist season. The issue of water supply companies is particularly important, and a real thorn in the side for mountain hut managers. In this case, it is hard to develop common strategies, given the marked differences between the various mountain huts and the diverse nature of the regulatory frameworks.
The common recommendations
Apart from the individual topics discussed, the written summary also demonstrates a clear desire to work more closely within the network and to improve awareness among visitors to the mountains – seen as a decisive step. There is also the intention to give tourists a better understanding of the role of the mountain hut manager, and so to facilitate his work. With regard to common initiatives to be implemented in the short term by the 66 mountain huts in the core zone of the World Heritage site, there is clearly a need to show consistency on the issue of climate change. Details of the plan will be decided together with the mountaineering associations and the mountain hut managers’ representatives.