a Choose one of the places shown in Figure 1.28, 1.29 (page 29) or 1.30 (page 30), or any other of the world's alpine areas.
b Prepare a 'skeleton' management statement for the place that takes into account multiple activities and that protects the local environment and community. Use a map and other illustrations in presenting your ideas.
How and why has the issue arisen? What conflicts are involved in the issue?
Any study of a tourism issue requires careful analysis of how the conflict arose, and this applies to any potential impact in a mountain locale. It may be noted, for example, that avalanches are frequently occurring near a ski resort and that they pose a threat to tourists' lives, local graziers' economy, and safe road or rail access. Before the possible and probable causes, of conflict can be identified, researching the issue will involve examination of not only the current site but of what was nearby beforehand and of what changes may have taken place. The natural occurrence of avalanches may have become a hazard because a chalet was unwisely placed in the avalanches' usual path. Tree removal for a ski run may have made a slope's snow less stable - see the photograph in Figure 1.29 on page 29. Sometimes, providing avalanche fences in order to protect people, chalets, roads and railway lines gives people a false sense of security, causing them to ignore the real dangers of major avalanches.
CONFLICTS OVER TOURISM: ISSUES AND OPTIONS
Figure 1.29 Avalanche barriers near Oberald, Switzerland
When do these events mostly occur there? (State their chronology or sequence.)
As is the case with most investigation work, the timing of particular activities can often be revealing. It may be that some tourist activities undertaken in mountains have potential for greater impact because of the season in which they are usually undertaken. Some researchers suggest that in Australia the potential for environmental damage near alpine resorts is greater in spring or summer than in winter, when many plants are dormant and the ground is covered by a protective blanket of snow. However, in order to ensure that the capital investment in tourist accommodation within winter ski resorts provides the best economic return, during spring and summer the tourism industry attracts different groups of mountain tourists who may wish to walk in the bush or fish in the streams. Careful study is required in order to determine when specific activities are potentially degrading.
Just as knowing where activities are occurring may provide a clue about the causes of environmental impact, so may the activities' timing. For example, if a particular road has never beforehand suffered from rock slides or mud slides, the fact that a slope above it was recently cleared for skiing may be useful evidence for explaining the slides occurring at present.
What alternative decisions can be made? What impacts would each one have?
Decisions that support one extreme point of view or the other rarely satisfy many people. It may be best, for example, to protect a national park by excluding all tourists all the time. Although this would be frustrating, it may be necessary in extremely unique circumstances. Much debate exists at present about the
extent to which the Antarctic should be opened to tourism. The Antarctic is an especially vulnerable and precious biophysical environment. Making management compromises whereby a balance of views is sought may not satisfy anyone completely but it is often the best way to proceed.
An example is the fact that the tens of thousands of tourists who visit America's Yellowstone National Park each summer's day are restricted to visiting only about 5 per cent of the park's total area. If the number of tourists attempting to enter California's Yosemite National Park on a summer's day exceeds the limit over which park damage would probably occur, the excess tourists are turned away.
Before these or decisions like them are made, many alternatives are considered, and each one's relative impacts on all the issue's aspects are assessed. When we are about to decide on any issue, it is very important that we list all reasonable solutions along with their benefits and disadvantages.
How is the issue likely to be resolved? How should the issue be resolved?
Predicting how an issue is likely to be resolved demands some understanding of the decision-making process and of which parties probably have the greatest influence. The investigator also has to know which rules - formal and informal - are being applied in the decision-making process. In countries such as Australia, the United States and Britain, well-established procedures and sets of rules usually exist in order to help the interested parties to negotiate a reasonably satisfactory settlement.
Controlling people's activities in tourist environments is a commonly used way of resolving potential tourist impacts. In Canada's Banff National Park, for example, the extremely popular tourist destination of Lake Louise has required careful management of tourists, including their education. The photograph in Figure 1.30 on page 30 depicts tourists reading interpretive signs that explain the Lake, the Victoria Glacier, and the place of these in the Columbian Icefields.
In other countries that have very different cultures and traditional economies - for example Bhutan and Papua New Guinea, rich companies may easily sway local decision makers by offering desired commodities such as electricity or reticulated water for local villages. If a universal land-titles system or an established parks organisation does not exist, tourism-development control may be minimal, thereby impacting badly on the environment or the local community. Even in countries such as Australia, wealthy people who invest in tourism activities often have more say in the decisions.
Figure 1.30 Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
How would you respond? How would you justify this response?
It is proper for investigators to have their own opinion about what should happen. Although they do not have the right to impose this opinion on other people, they may introduce it into the decision-making process. They, along with the other parties involved, may attempt to influence the making of the final decision. Would you have supported the closure of Yosemite National Park in order to protect it from the hordes of visitors on some days, or would you have supported another solution? Whatever course of action you recommend, you have to be ready to back up your position with sound evidence and persuasive argument.