The year 2002 has been designated International Year of Mountains. As the number of people wanting to visit remote locations grows, whether for sport or simply to appreciate nature, preservation of the environment and the ways of the people who live there should be our primary concern
Because of their inaccessibility, mountain areas often support fragile ecosystems and flora and fauna that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Opening up wilderness areas for trekking or skiing can endanger sensitive wildlife habitats and threaten to overwhelm remote village communities with imported cultures. Below we list some of the many issues to be taken into account if mountain tourism is to be sustainable.
Design and Development
- Before commencing any plans for hotel or resort development, ensure that members of the local community are fully involved and consulted. Villagers should be allowed to decide if and how they wish to participate in the tourism business. Consultation should be maintained throughout the planning and development process.
- Ensure that a full environmental impact assessment (EIS) is carried out.
- Buildings should be designed to blend into the natural contours and colours of the landscape and built in the local, traditional style.
- Materials should be natural, and, if possible, sourced locally (e.g. local quarries).
- As far as possible, make sure that local stone masons, carpenters and labourers are employed.
- Consider how the development can be used to help the community, through improvements to roads or water provision. Make meeting rooms available for community events or clinics. Provide recycling facilities for local people as well as for the hotel’s waste.
- When fitting out the hotel, find out what the local craftspeople and businesses can produce – such as textiles, furniture, lamps, pottery, art and sculpture. This will not only benefit their economy but give a more welcoming local ‘ambiance’ for guests.
- Where goods cannot be produced locally, rather than importing from abroad, see what is available through the local market or bazaar.
Read more at Green Hotelier!