The characteristics of Western tourism in mountainous regions
Switzerland and many other Western countries have got a long tradition in mountain tourism. This tourism has evolved significantly over the last decades.
In the 19th century, the first tourists in Switzerland were wealthy Englishmen who considered the highest summits of the Alps as challenges.
Progressively, the clients of Swiss tourism resorts became more and more interested in "fun tourism".
The prototype of "fun tourism" was of course skiing, but ice skating, mountain bike and horse riding, quads, rafting and motor bikes are playing a more and more prominent role.
Especially in regions like the West of the USA, Canada, Scandinavia and Australia, these activities have always been supplemented by trekking and camping.
Even though trekkers have always sought a close relation with nature, some infrastructure is required.
When Western tourists travel to other continents to engage in trekking, the required infrastructure becomes even more important.
This kind of tourism has developed into a lucrative industry in such places as the South-American rainforests, the Indian Himalayas and the Australian Outback. "Local tourists" know about the dangers of nature and certain basic rules to be respected, whereas Western tourists who travel to tropical areas need precise information, guides, organized means of transport etc.
Language issues are of course a major issue. In many regions of the world, it is not easy for tourists to find people who speak English. Many tourists do not even speak English; they would need help in French, Spanish, German, Italian or many other languages.
As a result, they might hesitate to leave the tourist resort without a qualified guide. Contacts with the local population are therefore almost impossible.
The Valais province in Switzerland has set up a dense network of infrastructure and customer information services.
New activities are introduced on a regular basis. Whatever happens, trained mountain rescue teams are on standby around the clock.
The original offer based on skiing has been broadened to other mountain sports, wellness and cultural activities.
Local food specialties like wine, cheese and dried meat have been transformed into a major marketing argument.
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