Understanding current tourism to plan for the future

After a five-year interlude, EURAC Research has repeated its field study into visitor habits, perceptions, expectations and levels of satisfaction with the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites. The preliminary results of the latest surveys, including some experimental research, will be announced on International Mountain Day (Wednesday 11 December 2019). The presentation will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the EURAC Research headquarters in Bolzano.

The importance and purpose of monitoring

It is crucially important for every World Heritage Site to measure and monitor tourism development at regular intervals. Tourism is a particularly important and complex factor in the Dolomites, and the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation is supported by a team of researchers using a range of innovative and complementary methods. The goal is to understand the behaviour, expectations and opinions of visitors to the Dolomites, but also to see the potential and critical issues in relation to tourism; to provide the right tools that help plan and manage our heritage in a way that is both sustainable and consistent with the guidelines of the Overall Management Strategy. The process of collecting data from various sources and creating a network of specialists from the institutes concerned has once more underlined the status of the Dolomites as a global laboratory.

An excellent research team

A new field study was commissioned at EURAC Research – Institute for Regional Development, five years after the one carried out in 2014. The research mainly involves a field survey, accompanied by data collected from mobile devices in certain pilot areas of the UNESCO Dolomites Site. These data are obviously in an aggregate and anonymous form, using the service provided by Vodafone Analytics. The various aspects of tourism in terms of both quantity and quality will then be summarised by the research team of Prof. Jan Van Der Borg of the Research Institute for Digital and Cultural Heritage at Ca’ Foscari University. The team will also make use of data gathered from social networks, and the interpretive framework for the carrying capacity of the UNESCO Dolomites, already included in the Overall Management Strategy.

Field survey

During the course of the 2019 summer season, the EURAC Research team met and interviewed thousands of tourists and hikers in different parts of the Dolomites. They asked about visiting habits, perceptions, expectations, and levels of satisfaction with regard to the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites.

Two follow-up surveys are currently in progress (November 2019) and concern the habits, knowledge, perceptions, expectations and degrees of satisfaction, firstly of operators in the tourism sector, and secondly of residents.

The study will end in the spring of 2020.