Open Access
1 May 2008 Mountain Resort Planning and Development in an Era of Globalization
Tim Coles
Author Affiliations +

Mountain Resort Planning and Development in an Era of Globalization, edited by Thomas Clark, Alison Gill, and Rudi Hartmann. Elmsford, New York: Cognizant Communication Corporation, 2006. 348 pp. US$ 74. ISBN 1-8823445-47-9.

* * *

The connection between landscape and tourism is obvious insofar as, for many people, the desire to experience different environments is a major motivation to travel. In this regard, mountains have a long-held, cherished allure: they stimulated some of the earliest travel writing, and were the subject for some of the earliest scholarly work on tourism. While mountain areas continue, by virtue of their dependency on tourism, to feature prominently as case-study locations in many journal articles on tourism, it is surprising that there have been relatively few dedicated volumes on mountain resort development. In compiling this collection, Clark, Gill and Hartmann set out to raise awareness of mountains and their role as “vital contributions to the welfare of all living things” (p xi) not least as they are connected to tourism, and to stimulate greater dialogue among scholars of different backgrounds to further this aspiration.

Substantively, the volume comprises 19 chapters in 5 sections, with 32 contributing authors. The first section (4 chapters), which covers issues of globalization, tourism and mountain resort development, gives way to discussion of the interconnected challenges of sustainability in the face of growth (Section II, 4 chapters) and the question of “Resort development for whom?” (Section III, 2 chapters). Contributions on the strategies and policies involved in the stewardship of the mountain environment (Section IV, 4 chapters) precede an examination of emerging themes in resort design and planning in the fifth and final section (4 chapters).

Given the size of the book and the number of chapters, it would be inappropriate to attempt a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. As with any edited volume, there are inevitably variations in the narratives in terms of their nature and quality; however, the editors have done a good job in tackling the unenviable task of harmonizing a diverse array of contributions stemming from quite different intellectual backgrounds. These days, publishers like to extol their high production values as a lure to potential authors and editors. Aesthetically, this volume is beautifully produced. It appears almost a cliché to be writing that it is richly illustrated but it is! Over 70 figures and 25 tables tell only part of the story; the graphics are generally excellent, and it was a pleasant surprise to find several reproduced in color, adding an extra vibrancy to the volume.

A somewhat predictable observation would be that, at times, the book can appear fragmented insofar as the sections are relatively small despite (or perhaps because of) the number of contributions and contributors. Some chapters are much shorter than others and, however interesting they may be, sometimes left the reader with feelings of frustration and of an opportunity missed. Each section begins with a short introduction by one of the editors. These entrées and the introductory chapter provide helpful overviews and contextualization. Far from being the last word on mountain resort development and tourism, they demonstrate that there is a place in the market both for a more integrative text synthesizing issues as they relate to a wider range of mountain settings, and for a more theoretically- and conceptually-driven volume dealing with major issues in the social sciences as they relate to mountain environments—which, as we are reminded (p 1), comprise as much as 20% of the earth's landmass but remain relatively marginalized in discourse.

In terms of geographical coverage, 12 of the 19 chapters deal substantively with mountain resorts in North America, the home region of the editorial team and the location of the conference from which this volume was developed (p x). Given the ambitions of the volume and the poignant issues tackled in each section, specific contributions from mountain resorts in other notable parts of the world, such as Scandinavia or the Southern Alps, would have been welcome. The European Alps (and other European ranges) are under-represented, and the developing world (eg Morocco, India, Central Asia, the Andes) is invisible, save for a short but thought-provoking chapter on the lessons that mountain resorts may learn from their coastal counterparts in the Caribbean. This criticism may be a little uncharitable, insofar as the coverage of any edited collection is a function of those willing to contribute and/or aware of the project in the early stages of its development. Agendas can move on apace and in unpredictable manners, but this book begins to engage with several serious issues, such as globalization, capital flows and property markets, social exclusion, risk society, corporate responsibility, and geopolitical integration. There is no doubt that the emphasis on sustainable development in mountain resorts is both relevant and welcome.

The publication of this book in 2006 paralleled increased international public debate on climate change, and its apparent role in reduced snowfall in the European Alps that year. Climate change is not a new issue, and it is surprising to find only brief mention of it in this volume, with less still on mitigation and adaptation. Mountain environments and ecosystems are extremely sensitive to climatic stimuli. Whether the issue is resort design, stewardship, sustainable development, or resource allocation, climate change will induce new sets of winners and losers which a volume like this provides an important, albeit first, step towards identifying.

Tim Coles "Mountain Resort Planning and Development in an Era of Globalization," Mountain Research and Development 28(2), 177-178, (1 May 2008).
Published: 1 May 2008
Back to Top