Dr. Tobias Hipp: “Alpine tourism is facing the need for fundamental changes”

A brief introduction about yourself, your profession and your motivation as a caretaker for tourism.

As a physical geographer with a PhD in the effects of climate change on Alpine permafrost and as a keen mountaineer and skier, I have always had a passion for the mountains, an urge to understand ongoing processes and the drive to be a (small) part of the evolving processes towards a more climate friendly future. As a representative for the German Alpine Club environmental department, I am involved in environmental assessments, e.g. mainly in the fields of energy and (winter) tourism with the overall goal to protect untouched natural places from further technical development.

Where do you see the biggest change in dealing with tourism in the Alps in the coming decades?

The impacts of climate change in the Alps are severe and already ongoing. The tourism sector, especially ski tourism, is already struggling to maintain the form of tourism that has been functioning over the last decade. And with all the scientific data we now have, Alpine tourism is faced with the need to undergo fundamental changes in order to adapt to the unavoidable negative impacts of climate change. The path has to be paved towards a touristic future with fewer emissions, less energy consumption, less traffic, less water consumption and a growing awareness of the value of natural places and technically “undeveloped” areas.

Where do you see tourism in the Alps in 2050?

Ideally, DMOs (Destinationmanagementorganisation) and communities have established strategies on how to become a sustainable tourism destination where visitors can be part of a zero-emission vacation and have already put some steps into motion, e.g. in the field of mobility. The destinations have realised how important natural areas are and that the promotion of sustainable forms of tourism is a key development for future generations in the Alps. Ski resorts still do exist and skiing still has a large share in Alpine tourism, but no more new artificial snow-making systems have been installed and ski resorts have stopped extending further into natural areas.