Mountain hut managers: proud to promote authentic and sustainable visits to the Dolomites

The mountain hut managers in the core area of the Dolomites World Heritage site will get directly involved by giving us a “behind the scenes” look at the difficulties and complexity of their work. In fact, they are the protagonists and, to some extent, also the architects of the awareness-raising campaigns that the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation will be launching to encourage visitors to adopt behaviours that are more respectful of the environmental context and more conscious of the role that the managers themselves play as stewards of the Dolomites, which in turn also benefits the visitors.

Coming from Trentino, Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, the mountain hut managers met on 18 and 19 November at the Brunet Hotels in Primiero San Martino di Castrozza, for the fifth annual meeting organised by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation. The meeting took place thanks to the collaboration and hospitality of the Paneveggio Pale di San Martino Natural Park and the San Martino di Castrozza, Primiero and Vanoi Tourist Board.

“We need to tell the story of our mountains together, a story that is composed of commitment, passion and sacrifice,” said Mario Tonina, president of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, speaking at the end of the meeting. “These are values that can be and are handed down thanks to your precious testimony as well. More and more tourists are looking for authentic experiences. They want to get to know the area and be guided by local operators. Your role is essential in directing visitors towards a sustainable and conscious use of the Dolomites. This is why we ask you to work with us and collaborate with each other, to support each other in this great responsibility”.

After a day of trekking in Val Canali where Luciano Gadenz, Alpine Guide from the Aquile di San Martino mountaineering school, taught them how to read the Dolomites landscape, the managers discussed the problems that unite them despite the differences related to the type of facility and the geographical and administrative location. Water supply, waste disposal, sustainability and hospitality management are aspects that require proper communication directed towards increasingly demanding users whose requests sometimes display a lack of awareness regarding the context. This is why the managers have decided to continue along the lines dictated by initiatives such as the “Noi Dolomiti UNESCO” (We are the UNESCO Dolomites) programme which has allowed them to report on the most practical aspects of their work in recent years.

Valerio Zanotti, president of the Paneveggio Pale di San Martino Natural Park, and Director Vittorio Ducoli brought their contribution to the two-day meeting by presenting their area of expertise in the field of active conservation. A shout-out also goes to the network of tour operators who, represented by Antonio Stompanato, president of the San Martino di Castrozza Tourist Board, and by Director Manuel Corso, highlighted a plan for the sustainability of the tourist offer and presented the holiday offers for the Dolomiti Palaronda, a trekking and climbing route among the Pale di San Martino mountain huts, as an example of successful collaboration.

The UNESCO Dolomites Foundation has the task of illustrating the initiatives that have been carried out in recent years that have directly involved the Network of Mountain Hut Managers, from support in their role as World Heritage “info points”, to the Dolomites Accessibility project, to collaboration with the Network of Producers and Quality Products, to the Geotrail and the “Noi Dolomiti UNESCO” programme which was conceived and curated by journalist Giambattista Zampieri.

The mountain hut managers who have joined the initiative have made a very rich contribution whose fruits in terms of communication will be seen in the coming months. “This is a somewhat unusual period, because many new people have come to the mountain, and it is up to us to try to educate visitors in order to impart an understanding of the mountain context and our work as simply and authentically as possible in a way that is in tune with the mountain”, concludes Duilio Boninsegna, manager of the Pradidali Mountain Hut.