Forty-hundred participants from 32 countries met in La Massana (Andorra) at the 7th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism, organized jointly by the UNWTO, the Government of Andorra and the seven Andorran Comun (local authorities). The Congress, that took place from 11th to 12th April 2012, gathered tourism experts and professionals to discuss the strategies to boost snow and mountain destinations, with a special focus on the role of new technologies.
Participants agreed that new technologies – from the Internet to social media and mobile technologies – are becoming important tool to promote and attract new visitors to snow and mountain destinations. Mountain tourism companies are more obliged than ever to manage their business on the Internet and to ‘accompany’ visitors on their real/virtual journey.
The Congress has been an occasion for established and emerging snow and mountain destinations to exchange best practices in product development, promotion and human resources. A number of case studies has been presented such as the ski resorts surrounding the Korean city of Ulsan that are encouraging visitors to use their smart phones to share their experiences or the ski resort of Flaine, (France) whose promotion of free activities through social networks has resulted in a significant increase in summer visitors.
On the occasion of the conference, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai declared that “New communication technologies, particularly the Internet, have been game-changers for the tourism sector”. Mountain destinations are proving themselves “highly innovative”, he continued, and are increasingly making use of new technologies to diversify products and markets and remain competitive.