18 Nov 2020
Ski tourism. One of the tourist attractions in winter
Snow sports are consolidating as one of the main attractions of the winter season in a time of adaptation to the “new normality”.
The Pyrenean System concentrates 61.2% of visitors to ski resorts. The 2019-2020 season got off to a good start and, after a Christmas period in which not all of the available slopes had been opened due to a lack of snow, last January the facilities were already enjoying the season in full activity and with exceptional snow quality, but the forecasts were broken due to the arrival of the pandemic.
However, ski tourism remains one of the main resources for the winter season. In Catalonia it is particularly significant. There are 16 resorts, ten of which have a full range of alpine skiing and the other six offer Nordic skiing. The Lleida part of the Pyrenees is the one with the most ski resorts, as it has eleven facilities that generate more than 2,200 direct jobs and more than 7,000 indirect jobs. The skiable territory exceeds 500 qmtrs. between alpine and Nordic skiing. In Catalonia’s tourist destination, skiing allows you to enjoy both a high mountain environment and a Mediterranean climate that has made this activity one of the best ways to experience winter nature by crossing natural areas, whether with your family or in a group.
The ski resorts in the Pyrenees of Catalonia have a wide and varied offer for visitors where they can enjoy sport and nature regardless of the level that each person may have when it comes to skiing. In any case, Catalonia, as a sports and snow tourism destination, goes beyond the ski slopes. The Pyrenees of Catalonia offer a wide and varied complementary offer to enjoy the snow without wearing skis.
This activity also forms part of the proposal for nature and adventure tourism that is on the rise, especially after the territory obtained Biosphere certification from the UNESCO Global Sustainable Tourism Council – GSTC, y que ha hecho que esta oferta haya apostado por un modelo de turismo responsable y ambientalmente sostenible. which has led to this offer being committed to a model of responsible and environmentally sustainable tourism. The Catalan Pyrenees have an endless number of activities suitable for all audiences and for all seasons of the year. The diverse programmes have a reputation and proximity to both nature and architecture, as you can enjoy the natural spaces and Romanesque architecture, thermalism and traditional cuisine adapted to each season, although it is in winter when there is a greater concentration of visitors and sportspeople who want to enjoy snow tourism and skiing.
However, this season will also be different and ski resorts have already made additional investments to adapt their facilities to the new prevention regulations to avoid the spread of Covid19. As a whole, the different ski resorts throughout Spain have published a guide to good practice which includes health and safety criteria that apply equally to all facilities. The use of masks, physical distance, hydro-alcoholic gel, capacity limitations, special signage and digitalisation of ski passes are some of the measures and protocols applied to guarantee the confidence and safety of visitors and users of the ski slopes
The great biodiversity of the Catalan landscape, manages to elongate the tourist season from the practice of winter sports, especially skiing in all its variables, to activities of the rest of the year to practice as rafting and navigation both near the sea and in rivers, canyoning, hang-gliding or ballooning and climbing, to cite some of the proposals that stand out in the demand. Catalonia has become a privileged destination for the practice of nature tourism and ecotourism, another activity that allows you to enter any of the two biosphere reserves that the territory has (Ebro and Montseny lands). Just this past summer some of the facilities, parks and natural areas have had to apply additional access control measures due to the large influx of visitors they have had due to tourism in the vicinity. This situation has led to progress being made in the application of preventive measures in accordance with the needs and demand that may appear at the start of this new winter season, since in Catalonia there are different companies, organisations and associations that promote activities in an environment close to nature.
Recently, Nordic Walking has become very well-known due to the increase in the number of practitioners in recent times. It is a sport that is practised completely outdoors and which, in turn, allows you to enjoy a natural environment to the full. Different companies and organisations organise leisure activities and improve their techniques in order to practice Nordic walking. This sporting activity was started by Finnish skiers who used the technique of cross-country skiing, which they put into practice during the summer to train and be able to reach the winter season in better shape. It is recognised as one of the most beneficial sports for health. Its main function is to walk. It incorporates specially designed walking sticks that help to walk more quickly by activating almost 90% of the body’s muscles. As technique is very important for getting the most out of the activity and the health benefits, it is necessary to practice beforehand with some technical classes or days in which a qualified and accredited instructor or technician provides the necessary knowledge.
If the health situation allows, different activities and outings are also planned in the coming months so that Nordic walking can be enjoyed to the full. As an example, the Bendhora activities agency has a programme of activities for the season, together with practice and learning sessions or competition days which it complements with virtual sessions to follow training from home.
The International Nordic Walking Federation was established in Finland in 2000. In Spain, in 2005 the first entity, based in Catalonia, was registered under the name Asociación Deportiva Nordic Walking Catalunya, (NordicWalkinCatalunya) currently based in Esplugues de Llobregat city.
Cycling, water sports, trekking, horse riding and balloon flights are other active tourism proposals that allow for outdoor activities in contact with nature and that can be practiced in any of the seasons of the year.