Tourism and Marginalization in the Alps. The Case of Media-Alta Valtellina Region


  • Francesca Mazza Politecnico di Milano



Tourism and marginalization are broadly considered different trajectories in the Alpine region's development. On the one hand, tourism is one of the main economic drivers in the Alps. However, many areas still depend on a mass tourism economy that produces relevant ecological, sociocultural and economic impacts. At the same time, marginalization identifies those contexts excluded by mass tourism development affected by shrinkage, abandonment and economic decline. Within this framework, the paper points out that these processes often overlap and coexist, producing complex and layered spatial geographies. The Media-Alta Valtellina Region, located in the Lombard Italian Alps, is provided as a case study to investigate the relationship between mass tourism and marginalization through two sets of indicators. Tourism indicators measure the impact of mass tourism development, while territorial capital indicators assess marginalization processes and the potential expressed by environmental, productive, demographic, infrastructural, settlement, and cultural resources. As a result, besides popular mass tourism poles and non-touristic marginalized areas, several mature tourism destinations emerge where marginalization effects and mass tourism issues overlap. Furthermore, territorial capital broadly appears as the intrinsic potential that must be activated and valorized to build new development trajectories. In conclusion, according to the different potentials expressed by territorial capital, the paper provides preliminary suggestions and guidelines for achieving the territorial rebalance between the multiple processes investigated.