This documentary by Sabine Harder and Martina Treuter originally aired a year ago on German regional broadcaster SWR. Although no English language version is available this is vital viewing for anyone interested in the future of life and tourism in the Alps.
As skiing is not as popular amongst European millenials as it was with boomers, tourist numbers are dropping year on year. Thus the competition to attract winter sports enthusiasts is getting harder and more competitive. This is greatly amplified by the effects of climate change.
Climate change means that many ski resorts are no longer guaranteed snow. 70% to 90% of the slopes have to be covered with artificial snow all season. In order to keep the ski circuit going despite climate change, many operators do not shy away from illegal construction practices of the mountain. However, resistance is now arousing among the locals, who are resisting these excesses of mass tourism. They see not only nature in danger, but also the social life in their villages.
While some ski resorts are getting bigger, smaller villages are dying out for many locals a ruinous competition. These mega-resorts such as St. Anton or Ischgl the focus on mass tourism and ever increasing expansion. Yet through short-sighted planning and profit motive, many hoteliers can no longer find staff. There is hardly any living space for seasonal workers, as every square metre is rented out profitably to tourists.
Surely this model of Alpine tourism has its functional and financial limits? Smaller resorts like Balderschwang in the Allgäu are developing new concepts and techniques in sustainable tourism that should bring a better quality of life for locals, more pleasant experience for tourists and more ecologically sustainable environment for all.