Network of mountain hut managers: intelligent ways to act

The mountain hut managers in the “core” area of the UNESCO Dolomites were due to meet at the end of the summer season: a period that had put a real strain on their ability to reinvent their role. They were caught between the need to adapt to anti-Covid regulations and the impact of a massive number of visitors, who were often unwilling to respect the rules of behaviour in the mountains. The fourth “Course for Mountain Hut Managers”, organised by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, was scheduled to take place at the Pordenone Mountain Hut in Val Cimoliana. The evolving situation with the pandemic, and consequent Prime Ministerial Decrees, forced us into a change of programme. The event took place online, in the form of an informal discussion about the next steps to take, working together as a team.

Different visions, common goals

The discussion was introduced by the Director of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, Marcella Morandini, who also brought greetings from the Foundation’s President, Mario Tonina. There were greetings, as well, from Marika Freschi, of the Pordenone Mountain Hut, who was due to host the meeting, and from the president of the CAI of Pordenone, Grazia Pizzoli. The managers then went on to discuss the situation during the recent summer season. Perspectives varied according to the type of facility and the area involved, with representation from all parts of the Site (South Tyrol, Belluno, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino). Some managers suffered particularly from the absence of foreign visitors and a drastic decline in overnight stays, while others compensated by putting in extra effort and ramping up catering services. A common theme among all the managers is the need to educate customers to be more aware of the problems of running a business at high altitude, and of the differences between the services offered by a mountain hut and those of a typical hotel or restaurant.

Connection, communication, quality

On this occasion, as in the previous editions held at Predazzo, Bressanone and Val di Zoldo, there was clear evidence of the real value of the bond between the managers in different areas, together with a desire to continue the work of shared communication. During the course held at Val di Zoldo, the subject of responsible use of water resources was discussed, and many participants stressed the close links between this issue and the general theme of mountain culture and political choices regarding tourist flow. The role of the network of managers, coordinated by the Foundation, must always be to promote awareness, and to encourage visitors to show respect for the environment, for the limits imposed by the mountains, and for the work of the managers themselves. For its part, the Foundation has renewed its commitment to supporting communications by mountain hut managers through its information channels.