Innovation, sustainable tourism and environments in mountain destination development: a comparative analysis of Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland
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This paper contributes to the comparative tourism sustainability debate in the context of mountain tourism destinations. It is based on a published three-dimensional Mountain Destination Innovation Model (MDIM) which claims that tourism development depends on a destination's innovation levels, and is subject to different conditions in a variety of important destination environments (using that term in its broadest sense), including sociocultural, natural, political, legal and technological. The authors comparatively analyzed Austrian, Slovenian and Swiss mountain destinations, which are located in small countries in the Alpine region, and that makes their environments, innovation levels and stages of development relatively easy to compare. The analysis used 88 managers’ replies to a 72 element questionnaire employing both objective and subjective measures about performance with regard to MDIM dimensions. The findings confirm differences in the stages of tourism development, in innovation levels, as well as in the supporting role of their corresponding wider environments. Swiss and Austrian mountain destinations outperformed Slovenian in almost all respects, but not in protection and quality of the natural environment or in inherited sociocultural attractiveness, where significant differences were not determined. The findings could help development and tourism policy authorities to improve the factors that determine sustainable tourism destination development.
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