Sustainable Tourism Law

374 SUSTAINABLE TOURISM LAW I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM IN FRENCH MOUNTAINS I.1. The beginning of mountain tourism: the Snow Plan The development of tourism in the French mountains is linked to the expansion of skiing activity. Indeed, after the Second World War, a new interest for winters sports – and in particular for skiing practice– emerged. It was consequently decided to create ski resorts, as was the case for Courchevel, a ski resort which had been built from the ground up in 1945. The French State was at that stage aware of the economic interest of developing winter sports on its territory. Ski became very popular and progressively tourists were ready to start preparing winter vacations. The State further considered that the French massifs, by their diversity and their location, constituted one of the most beautiful skiing areas in Europe. The French State thus made a gamble of the future and implemented a “Snow Plan”. 2 The first Snow Plan was decided in 1964 and lasted up to the late seventies. The purpose of the Snow Plan was to develop ski resorts at altitude entirely dedicated to skiing activities, through the construction of functional and high- quality infrastructures with specific urban planning to attract tourists, including foreign tourists. The mountain areas were remodelled to fit the Snow Plan and to organise mass tourism. Indeed, at that time, the innovation resided in the integrated concept of the ski resorts: this involved the construction of large buildings, with small apartments and all available services (shops, leisure activities, etc.) on the ground floor, featuring galleries that would make it possible to walk from one place to another without the need to go outside. Sustainability and environmental protection were not really at stake when the plan was adopted. However, in a sense, the Snow Plan was successful from an economic point of view, as it helped develop several ski resorts in an integrated manner, which strengthened the reputation of the French ski domain. I.2. The key touristic activities in mountains Mountain tourism is closely linked to the practice of sports and outdoors activities, for which a real enthusiasm has been observed since the start, thanks to the development of ski resorts at altitude. 2 «Plan Neige» – The French State created more than 20 new ski resorts from 1964 to 1977 and readapted many others. This was for instance the case of La Plagne, Les Menuires, Flaine, Isola 2000, Valmorel, Val-Thorens, Tignes, Avoriaz, etc.