Mountain biking has become a major sport and recreational pursuit worldwide that provides economic, social and environmental benefits for destinations and communities that implement such offer.
Mountain biking is not a trend. Its popularity is steadily increasing since the seventies and has now become one of the most popular outdoor activities as it is suitable for a wide spectrum of population. The segment of mountain biking tourism is rapidly developing also due to the fact that mountain biking is a strong travel motive. According to the report ‘Best Practice in Forest Tourism’, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, mountain bikers are willing to travel up to four hours in each direction to ride, while many also travel overseas. The research Economic Value of Mountain Biking in Scotland, conducted in 2011, estimates the total number of mountain biking visits at over 1.3 million per year, generating over £46.5 million. Do you need quantitative data to support our claims? Find detailed statistics about mountain biking participation around the world on our infographics, or take a look on the economic impacts of mountain biking tourism here.
Mountain bikers are on average in their mid-30s, have an above-the-average income and education. According to the research made by Singletrack, most mountain bikers work in the area of IT/Technology, followed by management positions. Seeking thrill and close connection with nature, mountain biking is an attractive alternative for young executives, lawyers, doctors and other well-paid professions. The Economist argues why biking became the new Golf with the following words: "Golf's appeal has become its undoing". Its meditative quality does not suit the frenetic pace of modern life. Nowadays people want to do something physical, especially outdoors."
Mountain biking helps resorts and destinations to spread the peaks and troughs of demand so that assets can be better utilized in time and space. Many successful cases around the world have proven that mountain biking can help ski resorts as well as other destinations to manage seasonality. For example the number of summer visitors already surpass the number of winter visitors in many ski resorts around the world, while mountain bikers represent up to 40% of all visitors. As passionate mountain bikers are eager to ride throughout the whole year, they are also becoming valuable off-season guests for summer destinations. In 2014 we have presented some successful practices in this field at the UNWTO conference in Albania. You can download the presentation here.
ENCOURAGING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Mountain biking is not merely a sport activity. The mountain bike is a great tool that enables visitors a gentler and slower form of transport through the whole destination. Mountain biking consequently provides opportunities for the development of rural areas and locally owned and operated businesses, as well as for the maintenance of existing services. Several studies have confirmed that a well-planned, constructed and maintained mountain biking infrastructure enables sustainable riding with minimal impact on the environment. However, mountain biking is not a sustainable activity and tourism product only because of its minimal impact on the environment. It also has a variety of social benefits as it motivates people to be more physically active.
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