Maria Lexhagen

Benchmarking successful all-year mountain tourism

Research on destination development can be this beautiful and inspiring! In the course of our research project on trends and innovation in tourism we visited the destination of Val Gardena, Italy, as part of doing a benchmarking study. Val Gardena is part of the Leading Mountain Resort of the World network and together with Banff-Lake Louise (Canada), Saas-Fee (Switzerland), Queenstown (New Zeeland), and Whistler (Canada) and Voss (Norway) we are analyzing the strategies for product development and marketing that these destinations have in order to build a strong summer season mountain tourism product.

In Val Gardena we were able to interview top management representatives at various local and regional tourist organisations, marketing organisations as well as individual tourism businesses and get insights about how they work with their brand, product offers, trends in tourist behaviour, marketing and distribution, as well as how to fund destination development.

Val Gardena is a beautiful destination in the Dolomites and has fantastic natural resources that can be developed for tourism. They also have a very strong and visible sense of quality in everything they do, from hospitality, service delivery, product design, to decorating the entire place with gorgeous flower arrangements! Also, they have a very well organized tourism industry both locally and in the region of South Tyrol and they are specifically skilled in finding solutions for funding destination development. However, the development of their summer season product offers suffers to some extent from a declining Italian market and the challenge is to find a mix of summer tourism products that attract an increasingly international tourist market that are interested in visiting the Dolomites.

In our research project the insights from the interviews in Val Gardena will be complemented with analysing the websites of the other 5 destinations in our benchmarking study in parallell with e-mail interviews with management in these destinations. The results will be part of the report on Trends and innovation in tourism and we look forward to digging in into all our empirical data and pulling out some valuable and interesting conclusions!

Thank you to all those that we met in Val Gardena for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!