The challenge of sustainable ski area management: the New Zealand club fields model between experience and sense of place
Purpose of the paper: This study explores how a small ski area in New Zealand is experienced and managed. Small ski areas around the world are facing the challenges of sustainability and climate change. The ski area in question is not only economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, but also seems to meet the growing demand for authenticity and immersive experiences. The findings have interesting implications for dealing with competition and climate change that are also potentially useful for major ski-resorts.
Methodology: Field research was conducted during the 2019 NZ winter season, by means of face-to-face interviews (15) with managers, employees and skiers and through a questionnaire (258) which collected the perceptions of skiers in order to better understand the day-to-day reality of the object of the case study.
Findings: The results reveal some distinguishing features of a club field in New Zealand and present considerations for how it might be usefully adopted in certain European mountain areas.
Research limitations: The study is based on a single case study and although the ski field under investigation (in the Selwyn region of New Zealand) is an important destination, the limitations of having one only case study need to be considered.
Practical implications: The study enriches the on-going academic discussion on boutique destinations and community-based models and highlights strategic and managerial aspects that could be useful to destination and ski area managers.
Originality of the paper: As yet, there is no literature on club fields, and no European ski area has adopted this model. The study, moreover, introduces a micro-segmentation analysis.
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