Sustainable Tourism in Mountain Destinations: The Perceived and Actual Role of a Destination Management Organization

  • Urs WagenseilEmail author
  • Myrta Zemp


Mountain destinations face many challenges from local displacement, harsh climatic conditions, or strong competition. Sustainable tourism development is therefore crucial to maintain the natural and cultural resources, which often are the main capital of mountain destinations. This study has been conducted to find out how destination management organizations (DMOs) operate in sustainable tourism. Results show that the DMOs do not perceive themselves as leaders but rather the political stakeholders and service providers. Furthermore, the perceived role of DMOs in the context of sustainable development does not fully match with the role they actually play today. The DMOs often are present in rather operational tasks, even though they say that a DMO should also undertake strategic tasks such as developing a sustainability strategy. Strategic tasks, which would help managing sustainable development in a more efficient way, are often neglected. A DMO looking for enhancement of sustainable tourism needs to undertake additional tasks and therefore has to create sufficient resources to go forward. Only DMOs taking on responsibility can sustainably develop their destinations in the long run.


Mountain DMO Sustainability Roles Responsibilities 



Tremendous thanks go to all the DMOs that have contributed to this study. For the expert interviews, the following destinations have helped to build a strong base for this study:

– Switzerland: Urs Wohler for Engadin Scuol Samnaun Val Müstair, Andreas Banholzer for Lake Geneva Region, Theo Schnider for UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch

– Austria: Herlinde Moosbrugger for Bregenzerwald, Andreas Purt for Mostviertel, Christine Klenovec for Biosphärenpark Grosses Walsertal

– Germany: Bernhard Joachim for the Tourism Association Allgäu, Harald Gmeiner for Alpenregion Tegernsee-Schliersee

– Italy (South Tyrol): Johanna Torggler for the South Tyrol Marketing Association, Thomas Aichner for Meraner Land, Klaus Messner for Villnöss

Thanks to all DMOs responding to the online survey or having supported the study in other ways:

– Switzerland: Adelboden, Aletsch, Arosa, Bellwald, Disentis Sedrun, Engadin St.Moritz, Engelberg, Gstaad, Haslital, Interlaken, Kandersteg, Obergoms, Samnaun, Toggenburg

– Austria: Achensee, Gastein, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Lieser-/Maltatal, Mühlviertel, Region Graz, Region Hall-Wattens, Salzburger Lungau, Salzkammergut, Seefeld, St. Anton am Arlberg, Wiener Alpen in Niederösterreich, Wipptal

– Germany: Ammergauer Alpen, Berchtesgadener Land, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Reit im Winkl

– Italy (South Tyrol): Eisacktal, Kronplatz, Seiser Alm, Südtirol, Vinschgau

Finally, we express our gratitude to all the staff involved in the study of the Institute of Tourism at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts: Laura Unyi, Anna Bernhard, and Angela Steffen.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Tourism (ITW)Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and ArtsLucerneSwitzerland

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