Mountain Tourism: A Double-Edged Sword
Mountains are found in every continent and cover about 24% of the world’s land. They exist in 139 countries and in all major types of ecosystems, from deserts and tropical forests to polar icepack. The special residential environment also nurtures a rich culture of mountain people. Mountains now present as a great place for rest, solitude, adventure, recreation and scenic beauty, attracting many tourists, migrants and pilgrims from around the world.
The boom of mountain tourism could bring many benefits to the locals, such as generating job opportunities, contributing to the economy and infrastructure development. Mountain areas are popular travel destinations, only second to coasts and islands. These areas could generate 15–20% of annual global tourism, which is 70 - 90 billion US dollars per year.
In an increasingly urbanized world, the cities are overwhelmed by overpopulation, noise and pollution while mountains are places where you can find inner peace and spiritual healing. It is a place to get close to the nature and rediscover the simple pleasures of life. In fact, more than 50 million tourists who visit mountain regions each year are attracted by the clean air and natural beauty there, as well as outdoor sports, recreational activities and simple lifestyles of their people. And in many mountainous countries of the world, there is large potential to develop local tourism in the future.
Mountain tourism is a double-edged sword. Although it may bring in cash in the short term, it also causes irreparable damage to the local environment and community. The fact is that mountain regions are often the least developed places in the world. People in poverty have to face social inequality, political marginalization, environmental stress and other problems. Mountains are home to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
The biggest trend of mountain tourism for last 10 to 15 years is that the resorts offer so many non-ski related activities. With so many recreational items, the resort has really become a winter wonderland. For tourists who don’t want to go up the hill, they could entertain themselves in mountain resorts, such as sledding, shopping, dining, spa experiences and exploring galleries. Besides, festivals are held throughout the season at most resorts as well.
In the past, there is a saying “If you don’t ski, you shouldn’t go up to the mountains”. But now things are different, so many people coming to the mountains just for the pure pleasure of being in such an incredible mountain environment.
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