Management perspectives of mountaineering tourism
DOI link for Management perspectives of mountaineering tourism
Management perspectives of mountaineering tourism book
As this book has shown, past decades have seen a change in mountaineering tourism from individual recreation to more commercialized opportunities, in parallel to an underlying trend of vastly increased numbers of people seeking to experience mountains. This volume ﬁlls the gap identiﬁed by Pomfret who suggested ‘previous studies on mountaineers have focused on mountaineering as a form of adventure recreation rather than adventure tourism’ (2006: 113), with limited prior research on the tourism elements of mountaineering recreation. It is impossible to separate mountaineering from mountain tourism more generally because the increasing convergence in the industry has increased commercialization. Indeed, authors such as Varley (2006) have documented the existence of the spectrum of adventure pursuits called the Adventure Commodiﬁcation Continuum, which is applicable to mountaineering tourism, and can be classiﬁed as soft tourism or hard tourism (Hill 1995). Soft mountaineering activities might include undertaking less challenging mountain routes independently, taking part in activities led by experienced guides, or participating in a mountaineering course to develop technical skills and enable progression to greater goals. These usually entail low levels of risk, minimum commitment and beginner level skills. Hard mountaineering activities include rock climbing, mountaineering expeditions and strenuous treks (Millington et al. 2001). These activities have been dubbed SCARRA (Skilled Commercial Adventure Recreation in Remote Areas) by Buckley (2006), and are commonly motivated by risk, challenge and exploration. While competent mountaineers may undertake these activities unaided, for example in the UK mountains, logistical support and guiding is often required for higher peaks in the Greater Ranges. Thus mountaineering provides plenty of scope for participation at different levels and is growing in popularity. However, it is somewhat unhelpful to divide these ends of the spectrum as many new and existing mountain tourism practices rely on the same supporting infrastructure. For example, mountain tourists to the Himalaya all use the same airstrips, trekking routes, teahouses and base camps, whether they are casual trekkers or committed mountaineers. Whilst the former are partly inspired by the latter, they are all part of a commodiﬁcation of mountain environments that began with the expeditions of the twentieth century, and has intensiﬁed since the 1960s. Clearly mountain-based tourism can bring economic beneﬁts to areas
with few other economic opportunities and can have a signiﬁcant impact on the host community. Mountaineering can provide opportunities for local people including guiding and logistical support, retailing equipment and hospitality. It can also result in development beneﬁts, for example in the Khumbu area of Nepal, which Hillary ﬁrst passed through on his way to summit Everest in 1953, reporting high levels of poverty amongst the indigenous mountain Sherpa. Today, mountain tourism has brought not only many shops and lodges but also schools, sewerage treatment, healthcare, electricity and street lighting to places such as Namche Bazaar, the main settlement of the region. Johnston and Edwards were perhaps the earliest commentators to foretell how the activity of mountaineering has become progressively commodiﬁed over past decades:
Corporate sponsorship has shaped mountain experiences and even the fantasy of a mountain experience in order to sell commodities to a consuming culture . . . many more well-equipped, stylishly dressed holiday consumers are travelling to mountain regions . . . sent by an ever-growing legion of adventure travel companies who advertise their services in Adventure Travel magazines and guides. They arrive carrying clothing and equipment purchased at outdoor shops staffed by adventure enthusiasts; and they are guided through their mountain adventure by mountaineers turned tour guides.