Adventure tourism in Azerbaijan and the role of mountaineering in its development

Master's Thesis 2014 124 Pages

Tourism - Miscellaneous


Table of Contents




List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

Chapter One – Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Research question and study objectives
1.3.1 Research question
1.3.2 Objectives
1.4 Organisation of the thesis

Chapter Two – Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Adventure tourism and its diversification
2.3 Importance of mountains in tourism development
2.4 The economic importance of mountain tourism
2.5 Mountains as adventure destination
2.6 Trends in developing mountaineering as adventure tourism
2.7 Geographical development of mountaineering by regions and countries
2.8 Conclusions

Chapter Three – Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Defining Research
3.3 Research Focus, Aims and Objectives
3.4 Research aims/Goals
3.5 Research objectives
3.6 Research Hypotheses
3.7 Rationale for Using Qualitative Research
3.8 Research Design
3.9 Secondary Research
3.10 Primary Research
3.11 Sample Selection
3.12 Questionnaire Design
3.13 Validity, Reliability and Trustworthiness
3.13.1 Internal Validity
3.13.2 External Validity
3.14 Research Ethics
3.15 Informed and Voluntary Consent
3.16 Data Analysis
3.17 Limitations of Research
3.18 Conclusion

Chapter Four – Research Findings
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Qualitative research: interviews
4.2.1 The geographical distribution of mountaineering in Azerbaijan
4.2.2 Mountaineering seasons in Azerbaijan
4.2.3 Attractiveness of mountaineering and outdoor activity
4.2.4 Tourists’ preferences
4.2.5 Current state of mountaineering as adventure tourism
4.2.6 The role of governmental and non-governmental agencies in developing mountaineering as adventure tourism
4.2.7 Dependence between mountaineering and other types of adventure tourism
4.3 Qualitative research: interviews

Chapter Five – Discussion and Analysis
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Objectives of discussion and analysis

Chapter Six – Conclusions and Recommendations
6.1 Conclusions
6.1.1 Introduction
6.2 Recommendations
6.2.1 Recommendations on a national level
6.2.2 Recommendations on a sectoral level
6.2.3 Recommendations on an individual level
6.3 Conclusion


Appendix A: Interview Questions
Appendix B: Semi-structured interview with tour operators (English version)
Appendix C: Semi-structured interview with the head of municipality (English version)
Appendix D: Semi-structured interview with a member of Mountaineering Federation of Azerbaijan (English version)
Appendix E: Semi-structured interview with the head of Tourism Department (English version)
Appendix F: Informed Consent Form (English version)
Appendix B1: Semi-structured interview with tour operators (Azerbaijani version)
Appendix C1: Semi-structured interview with the head of municipality (Azerbaijani version)
Appendix D1: Semi-structured interview with a member of Mountaineering
Federation of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani version)
Appendix E1: Semi-structured interview with the head of Tourism Department (Azerbaijani version)


I certify that this thesis, which I now submit for examination for the award of Master of Science in Tourism Management, is entirely my own work and has not been taken from the work of others save and to the extent that such work has been cited and acknowledged within the text of my work.

This thesis was prepared according to the regulations for postgraduate research of the Dublin Institute of Technology and has not been submitted in whole or in part for an award in any other Institute or University.

The Institute has permission to keep, to lend, or to copy this thesis in whole or in part, on condition that any such use of the material of the thesis be duly acknowledged.

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Over recent years, due to the increasing popularity of mountain-based tourism, the role of mountaineering has increased in importance.

The mountains have for centuries served as a principal attraction, enticing tourists to visit particular vacation destinations. Mountains continue to be one of the core features of adventure tourism.

Mountains cover one-fifth of the earth’s land surface and continue to market themselves, in a way, as destinations with a clean environment, a variety of flora and fauna, and beautiful nature. The case study location chosen for this research was Azerbaijan, a country near the Great Caucasus Range and Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan is a country primarily covered by mountains that have a high potential for adventure tourism.

The present research focused on exploring the concept of mountaineering as adventure tourism, analysing the development of mountaineering in Azerbaijan, determining the main challenges to the development of mountaineering as adventure tourism in Azerbaijan, and defining the role of mountaineering in developing adventure tourism.


I would like to sincerely thank the many people who helped me complete this

dissertation. In particular, I would like to thank to the following people:

- My supervisor Dr. Bernadette Quinn whose energetic, boundless enthusiasm, and constant unending support, aided me in the preparation of every aspect of this project.
- All the lecturers and staff of the M.Sc. in Tourism Management program and my classmates for their support during the course of this research project.
- The interviewees who participated in this research.
- Finally, my friend Chris Chaplin for his proofreading and editing skills.

List of Tables

3.1 List of interviewed organisations

3.2 Examples of coding

4.1 Mountaineering routes

List of Figures

1.1 Effects of age and gender on success and death of mountaineers on Mount Everest

4.1 Map of Azerbaijan

4.2 Mountaineering Attractiveness

4.3 Tourists and local visitors engaged in mountaineering

4.4 Average duration of tours to mountaineous regions

4.5 Map of tourists destinations

4.6 Tourists preferences

4.7 Importance level of mountain-based tourism

4.8 Importance level of adventure tourism

List of Abbreviations

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1.1. Introduction

Mountains are an important natural resource in the tourism sector. Untouched nature, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and diverse topographical features make mountains very attractive for tourists. Mountains can be also places for leisure-time activities.

Regions with high altitudes and treacherous roads help to make mountains adventurous places. Mountains can also be places for escape, and suggest excitement, stimulation, and the potential for adventure that many mountaineers experience. For this reason, mountaineering and adventure tourism appear to be merging.

Tourism makes an important contribution to the economies of countries in terms of the potential it creates for economic growth. As mountains cover a significant share of territorial space, the development of mountain-based tourism and mountaineering may positively impact the development of adventure tourism.

The case study location for this research is Azerbaijan, where mountains cover about 60 per cent of the local territory and are considered a basis for tourism. Therefore, mountaineering development in Azerbaijan may have a huge impact on the development of the entire tourism industry in this country.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Mountaineering is considered one of the most common outdoor activities in the development of adventure tourism and should play an important role in promoting tourism.

1.3 Research question and study objectives

The purpose of this study is to assess the nature and potential of mountaineering as a means for the development of adventure tourism in Azerbaijan. It will attempt to define

several types of mountaineering and also determine the main challenges to the development of mountaineering as a form of adventure tourism in Azerbaijan.

1.3.1 Research question

What is the potential for mountaineering as a means for developing adventure tourism in Azerbaijan?

1.3.2 Objectives

This study concentrated on the following objectives:

- To explore the concept of mountaineering and adventure tourism through an academic literature review;
- To analyse the development of mountaineering in Azerbaijan;
- To determine the main challenges to the development of mountaineering as a form of adventure tourism in Azerbaijan;
- To define the role of mountaineering as a means for the overall development of tourism.

1.4 Organisation of the thesis

The thesis consists of six chapters plus appendices. This chapter has provided background information on the research topic, and has shown the importance of the case study. The research purpose, research question, and key objectives have been illustrated here as well.

Chapter II is an academic literature review that discusses some definitions of adventure tourism and also highlights controversial academic discussions on adventure tourism as well as on different versions of tourism within an adventure context. Moreover, it cites examples of mountaineering in developing adventure tourism.

Chapter III discusses the methodological approach used in this research. It outlines the research questions, the method employed for data collection, the sampling methods and methods of analysing the data gathered, and ethical issues encountered as well as limitations of the study.

Chapter IV presents all findings from the research. The findings are also presented using graphic representations including tables and pie charts.

Chapter V discusses and analyses the key findings from the research. The findings are analysed and interpreted as they relate to the specific research objectives.

Finally, Chapter VI draws conclusions from the research. It ends with recommendations that could help to develop mountaineering in Azerbaijan.


2.1 Introduction

Currently, the role of adventure in the development of tourism is significant. To comprehend the impacts of mountaineering on developing adventure tourism, it is necessary to reveal the concept of adventure tourism and its increasing role in the general context of developing tourism. There are various research efforts on the theme of adventure tourism, with a number of sources forming different interpretations regarding the definitions of adventure tourism. This research paper will comprise some definitions on adventure tourism, highlighting controversial discussions of some authors on adventure tourism, as well as on different versions of tourism within an adventure framework. Furthermore, it provides examples of mountaineering in developing adventure tourism.

2.2 Adventure tourism and its diversification

There are many publications on adventure tourism. Swarbrooke et al. (2003) claim that adventure tourism has experienced enormous growth internationally over the past two decades. Shephard & Evans (2005) comment that in spite of its fame, researchers and adventure tourism amateurs have not been able to define a precise and completely acceptable concept of this segment of travel and tourism for a variety of reasons. Sung et al. (1997) assume that the reasons of popularity are derived from such factors as the plethora of adventure tourism activities, perception of adventure by visitor or tourist, as well as the frequent coinciding of adventure tourism with adventure recreation. They claim that it is commonly recognised that one of the determining traits of adventure tourism is danger and vagueness of consequence.

Some researchers such as Walle (1997) and Weber (2001) contend that the search for understanding and awareness are its fundamental features. According to Berno et al. (1996), surveys of adventure tourism have been limited to date but it seems to be a developing field of investigation.

Newsome et al. (2001) conclude that the differences between nature tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, adventure travel, commercial expeditions, outdoor recreation and outdoor education are obscured. Buckley (2000, 2004a) and Travel Industry Association of America (2005) comment that adventure travel has enhanced fast its share in recent years as outdoor recreation has got more commercialised. Cater (2005) comments that adventure tourists strive to be thrilled and anxious but not actually endangered. This sensation-seeking behaviour, and perceptions of danger was reviewed more comprehensively by Fluker and Turner (2000).

According to Kumar (2009), adventure tourism is a kind of niche tourism including research or trip to faraway areas, where the traveller should anticipate the unexpected. Tourists search extraordinary holidays, dissimilar to the ordinary beach vacation. As per the author, mountaineering expeditions, trekking, bungee jumping, rafting and rock climbing are often referenced as conspicuous examples of adventure tourism.

According to the U.S. based Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel may be any tourist activity, involving two of the following three components: a physical activity, a cultural exchange or interaction and engagement with nature (Kumar, 2009). Page et al. (2005) stress that to identify adventure tourism it is necessary to research into adventure tourists’ motivations and behaviour.

Page and Dowling (2002) summarize different definitions and subdivisions, referring to Bentley et al. (2001a, b, c), and the Canadian Tourism Commission (1995). They also mention typologies (pp. 13–14) of adventure tourism activities, taken from Bentley and Page (2001), and operators drawn from Bentley et al. (2000, 2001a, b, c). The contemporary classic text by Hammitt and Cole (1998) on wildland recreation comprises past observations and future plans of the utilization of US Forest Service lands for activities such as rough terrain driving, rock climbing, horse riding, boating and diving, but without any difference between private recreation and commercial outfitters. The later text by Eagles and McCool (2002) on tourism in protected areas mention kayaking and diving in brief (pp. 218, 228), but the content does not include climbing, rafting or horse riding.

Outdoor physical challenge, which may have positive image spin-offs like weight loss, physique development, sun tan and related stress reduction, may be influenced by cultural forces in developed countries, and thus reflect changing lifestyles (Chaney 1996).

There appear to be just two texts whose titles specifically cite adventure tourism: Hudson (2002) and Swarbrooke et al. (2003). The first one, however, is especially on sports tourism rather than on adventure. The last one concentrates far more on human psychology than on tourism products, with material featuring casino gamblers, urban adventure playgrounds, UK clubbers and party tours, and postcards to home, for instance. There is one text by Easson (2006) specifying philosophy and psychology of extreme sports. Some of the most precise and eligible information available to mention is in an edited volume by Wilks and Page (2003) on tourist health and safety, namely, a chapter by Page et al. (2003a) on adventure tourism. Furthermore, the chapter by Page et al. (2003b) covers New Zealand accident statistics in whitewater rafting, canoeing, caving and diving. Ewert and Jamieson (2003) observe traits of adventure tours and tourists, mentioning matters such as skills at particular outdoor activities, risk management and safety, faraway areas and self-confidence, weather and seasonality, cost and preparation and the crucial role of skilled guides. They examined participation levels in adventure tourism activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, rafting and diving as indicated by observations in 1993, 1995 and 1997; they also comment, for instance, that of the 1114 people who had summited Mt Everest up to and including 2001, 183 of these (16.5 per cent) made the ascent in 2001. In the same volume Bentley et al. (2003) indicate that 11 per cent of visitors to New Zealand in 1999 took part in an adventure tourism activity, with a total of 400 operators providing such products. They also draw a table on injuries per million participant hours (p. 94) for various activities. The highest degree is 7401 for cycle tours, followed by 6636 for caving, 3164 for fishing and 3096 for riding quad bikes or ATVs. Adventure activities more generally thought of as risky, in comparison with lower degrees of harm per million participant hours: 718 for horse riding, 537 for whitewater rafting, 483 for blackwater (cave) rafting, 125 for diving and only 14 for kayaking.

2.3 Importance of mountains in tourism development

Mieczkowski (1995) states that after coastal regions, mountains may be second in global popularity as tourist destinations. According to the Swiss World website, in the 19th century, it was discovered that high altitude fresh air had a therapeutic effect on lung disease (Swiss World, 2013). The reasons that attract visitors to the mountain destinations are the climate and clean air, varied topography, beautiful scenery, local traditions, simple life styles, sports that require steep slopes or winter snow, typical mountain activities such as mountaineering and paragliding, summer activities as walking, hiking, bird watching, rafting, mountain biking, as well as winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledging and tobogganing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, winter walking and ice skating (Woodlands Junior School, 2013).

Most of the population in the developed world lives in urban areas. Mountains, lakes, oceans, jungle, desert islands, and other wild places represent escape locations that offer excitement, stimulation, and potential adventure. This dislocation of self from the ordinary to the extraordinary appears to provide a pleasurable experience that is central to tourism (Rojek and Urry 1997).

Most people in the developed world live their lives in an urban frame insulated from less desirable elements of the real world by warm houses, hot water, electricity, beds, hygienic food, and other comforts. Part of their expressive selves reacts against this through an attraction to the perceived adventure of activities in wild places (Bourdieu 1986). Godde, Price and Zimmermann (2000) focused their attention on the fact that in the 1990s, a growing number of projects and programmes have addressed mountain tourism.

Aditya and Singh (1997) note that one example of global mountain phenomenon are the hill stations of the Indian Himalaya, which were first developed by the colonial British, and are now visited in the summer by middle-class Indians seeking to escape the heat and congestion of the plains. According to Zimmermann (1995), reacting to the increasing number of tourists, cableways were established, the first one on to Rigi in 1873. Price (1990) comments that similar trends also occurred in North America, where the expansion of the railways made the Rocky Mountains accessible to tourists and mountain climbers in the late 19th century, and a cog railway was built to take tourists to the summit of Pike’s Peak in Colorado in 1891. In addition, MacCannell (1976) noted that mountain tourism derives partly from the romantic idealism of people bored by urban living.

Several researchers have tried to explain why mountain tourism is so popular. Buckley et al. (2000), for example, views the mountains as another motivation to seek adventure and to participate in recreational sports. Snow-shoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing, and hiking each bring a sense of adventure and have been practised for enjoyment for over a century. Heli-skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling have more recently been added to the winter attractions that mountains offer, while trekking, camping, climbing, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and mountain biking fill tourists’ time in other seasons. Buckley et al. (2000) also states that the degree to which mountain sports are diversifying, combined with innovative advances in sports technology, contribute to the number of tourists to mountain regions.

As Ives (1992) states, mountains are prominent on global agendas not only because of their importance for tourism – though the experience of visitors to mountain regions has undoubtedly been one factor in increasing global awareness – but also because they cover one-fifth of the earth’s land surface and supply important resources to over half of the world’s population. Mountain destinations are highly susceptible to changes in climate (Moen and Fredman, 2007) and tourism development in such fragile areas should be based on sustainability principles (Alpine Convention, 2011a).

According to Diaz et al. (2003), mountains are amongst the most fragile environments in the world. Kapos et al. (2003) state that the world’s mountain areas cover 24 per cent of the Earth’s land surface and are home to 12 per cent of the global population (Huddleston et al., 2003). A further 14 per cent of the global population is estimated to live in the vicinity of their surrounding areas (Meybeck et al., 2001). A far greater proportion of the global population relies on the goods and services provided by these areas, particularly water, which can be vital for agriculture, communities and for industries that are even located hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from the mountains. As urbanization continues to increase in the world, the mountains are also key centers for recreation and tourism; their attraction is often heightened by their remarkably high levels of biodiversity (Messerli and Ives, 1997).

2.4 The economic importance of mountain tourism

Potential of tourism to contribute to economic development in mountain areas is unquestionable. Many mountain regions in the world have seen a strong rise in living standards after tourism was introduced (ICIMOD. 2014). In the Alps, for instance, tourism development since the 18th Century has completely transformed poor alpine agricultural settlements into prosperous mountain resorts and villages. International tourism has become a pillar of national economies and one of the prime catalysts for development in many alpine countries. Austria, for example, is currently the tenth most visited country in the world and one of the 12 richest countries in terms of per capita GDP (IMF 2009) with over 18 million tourists per year, both in winter and summer, contributing to at least 10 per cent of Austria’s overall GDP (Holiday Services Austria 2010). In Switzerland, tourism plays a similar role (e.g., Johnson et al. 2008). Recognising the crucial role of tourism in the economic performance of the Alps, an Alpine Convention was signed in 1991 by most of the Alpine countries agreeing to implement tourism protocols to safeguard tourism as the basis for the standard of living and economy of the local people, while at the same time ensuring its contribution to the overall protection and sustainable development of the Alps (Tourism Protocol, European Union 2005).

Mountain areas are second only to coasts and islands as popular tourism destinations, generating 15-20 percent of annual global tourism, or US$70-90 billion per year (UNEP 2007). While modern forms of transportation have made even remote mountain areas accessible to increasing numbers of visitors, mountain tourism tends to be very unevenly distributed, with a small proportion of locations having significant tourism infrastructure (UNEP 2007). For example, in the European Alps, where tourism now exceeds 100 million visitor-days per year, 40 percent of communities have no tourism at all, while 10 percent have extensive and specialized tourism infrastructure (UNEP 2007). It is statistically defined that more than 50 million people visit mountains annually, about 13 million people live in the Alps and approximately 100 million visitors visit the Alps each year (Woodlands Junior School. 2013). Mountains can provide destinations for leisure activities. Many tourists and visitors like to ski on mountains and climb them. Taking photos and admiring mountains’ scenery becomes popular day by day (UNEP 2007).

2.5 Mountains as adventure destination

It is expedient to note that according to UNEP report (UNEP 2007), mountains cover about 24 percent of the world’s land surface, ranging over every continent and all major types of ecosystems, from deserts and tropical forests to polar icecaps (UNEP 2007). In general, mountains can be said to be higher than 300 meters (984 feet).

Mountains can provide evasion destinations that suggest excitement, stimulation and potential adventure. This self-displacement from the common to the extraordinary seems to provide a pleasurable experience that is pivotal for tourism (Rojek and Urry 1997). Mountains in particular have long been searched as tourism destinations but have, hitherto, remained mainly under the auspices of mountaineers: people who actively and independently look after adventure and who would not recognize themselves as tourists (Scott 1994). Tourism, however, has broadened to cover adventure patterns, and mountains have risen in popularity accordingly. Mountain tourism holidays are only one type of adventure tourism activities, but they are indicators of the manner frontiers between mountains and tourism have got obscured.

There is a great deal of discussion about definitions of tourism (Sharpley 1994), but few attempts to define mountain adventure tourism (Weber 2001). According to Whitlock, Romer and Becker, mountaineering is just one sector of “nature-based tourism”: an encompassing term that refers to all the myriad forms of tourism that originate as a result of the natural appeal of an area (1991:1). For purposes of discussion here, mountain adventure tourism encompasses several ideas. First, it has a focus that has a practical engagement for the tourist. There is, therefore, a physical effort involved, to a greater or lesser extent, which from some perspectives is closer to work than holiday. This embodied experience is an important point of discussion.

Secondly, mountain adventure tourism is a business entity. Similar to other industries, competition outlines the adventure tourism market and large tourism enterprises have a tendency to dominate. Small independent tourism enterprises suggesting specific individualized itineraries such as White Peak Mountaineering consider it difficult to compete with large international companies such as Explore, Himalayan Kingdoms, and Exodus. The range and diversity of the holidays on offer from the larger companies is huge, but some companies—Jagged Globe and Foundry Mountain Activities are two British based examples—have found a niche by specializing in mountaineering within adventure tourism. Fragmentation has helped the development of mountain adventure tourism.

What makes mountain destinations so interesting is the high altitude and relative isolation that create specific conditions (Godde, 1999) that have enabled the preservation of habits and lyfestyles at mountain destinations (Higham, 2003). Nepal and Chipeniuk (2005) described mountain destinations as being diverse, marginal inaccessible, vulnerable, niche and aesthetic. For the purpose of this research, a mountain destination is defined as a geographical, economic and social entity. It incorporates companies, organisations, activities, areas and infrastracture to satisfy needs of mountain tourists (adapted from Flagestad and Hope, 2011).

Snow-based tourism, adventure tourism (trekking, climbing, rafting, cycling), cultural tourism, ecotourism and pilgrimages to popular sites are all part of mountain tourism (Godde, 1999).

The altitude and slope criteria used for the research to define a mountain destination are the criteria proposed by the Nordic Centre for Spatial development (2004). For elevations bove 2500 metres, there are no additional criteria necessary; all destinations above 2500 metres are mountain destinations. For elevations from 1500 to 2499 metres, the additional criterion is a more than 2° slope within 3 km radius, whereas for elevations from 1000 to 1499 metres, a more than 5° slope within a 3 km radius and/or local elevation range are necessary; a local elevation range should be more than 300 metres within 7 km radius. For altitudes from 300 to 999 metres, a local elevation range of more than 300 metres within a 7 km radius is required, and for altitudes from 0 to 299 metres, a standard deviation of more than 500 metres for cardinal points is necessary.

In recent times, the activities that tourism undertake in mountain areas have diversified. Mountain biking, for example, has become very popular. In 2007 the quantity of tourists who were involved in mountain biking during a travel to Scotland almost doubled from the previous year, as was reflected according to the ‘UK Tourism Survey’ by VisitEngland (Tourism Intelligence in Scotland 2009). In 2009, ‘Economic Value of Mountain Biking in Scotland’ approximately calculated the total number of mountain biking visits at over 1.3 million anually. Almost 600,000 people visited here to test fantastic specific trails (Tourism Intelligence in Scotland, 2009).

Skiing is another very popular mountain tourism activity. Johnson et al. (2003) state that tourist expenditure at ski resorts make up a large component of Mallett’s (1998) estimate of the economic scale of adventure tourism in North America and figure increases enormously if associated real estate development is also included.

2.6 Trends in developing mountaineering as adventure tourism

Mountaineering is frequently named as Alpinism, mainly in European languages, which means climbing high mountains with physical strains such as the Alpines. The skilful mountaineer is called as Alpinist. The word alpinism was devised in the 19th century to imply climbing for the goal of entertaining climbing itself as a sport or recreation, separately from simple climbing while hunting or as a religious pilgrimage that had been done generally at that time.

According to Wikipedia website (Subject Wiki for Mountaineering. 2012), mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering attempted to attain the highest point of unreached large mountains it has divided into branches that are engaged with various aspects of the mountain and contain three areas: rock-craft, snow-craft and skiing, depending on the route selected. All require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to ensure security (Cox and Fulsaas, 2009).

In the early 1800s adventurous mountaineers started to reach Switzerland’s highest points (Swiss World. 2013). The period between 1854 and 1865 was assumed as the “Golden Age of Alpinism”, when British gentlemen and members of the aristocracy attained heights of the Swiss Alps (Swiss World, 2013). In 1857, they established the Alpine Club (Swiss World. 2013). Later, they founded the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), with the purpose of investigating rather than merely reaching the Alps, and of establishing a network of mountain huts where exhausted mountaineers could stay. The building of mountain passes and the provision of particular coach services transformed the mountains into more reachable for a public. The invention of the cog railway in the mid-1800s improved Swiss tourism (Swiss World, 2013). UK suggests a variety of adventurous trips such as GoApe, white water rafting, rock climbing and pot holing (Cool Geography 2013). According to ‘ Economic Value of Mountain Biking in Scotland’, visitors who consider mountain biking as the major reason or a main part of their trip, spent an estimated £46.5 million (Tourism Intelligence in Scotland 2009).

Rubens (1999) describes adventurous activities as comprising either the “broad” or the “narrow” view. The former view of mountain adventure tourism encompasses activities such as multiday trekking expeditions which make sustained physical demands on the participant and in which the adventure element is present at a relatively low level.

The narrow view is exemplified by activities such as abseiling and bungee jumping which offer an intense, highly charged but short-lived experience. In Hamilton-Smith’s (1993) terminology, the former might be considered the more “serious” form of leisure.

Mountain adventure tourism embraces both broad and narrow activities and, thereby, maximizes its appeal to a full range of paying clientele. Trekking has been the commercial foundation for adventure tourism in Nepal, partly because it has a breadth of appeal across the spectrum of hard and soft adventure. It has been suggested that mountaineers (mostly focused on mountain conquest) paved the way for the emergence of adventure tourism in Nepal. Mountaineering expeditions are no longer the preserve of experienced mountaineers; anyone with money can now join one, although mountain guides retain leadership. A typical expedition to Nepal today may well contain “aspirant mountaineers” and “tourists” side by side as formerly distinct frames of reference merge. Clients buying mountain based adventure holidays have the financial capacity to pay for these in common. Beyond this point the range of clients is as great as the nature of the activities on offer. Working and retired people are represented, and the extent to which the retired section of clients might go for longer is unknown.

Beedie (2002) found no obvious correlation between working commitments and length of holiday taken. There appears to be some debate as to how adventure tourism (and hence the mountain adventure version) should be classified. Hard adventure trips usually involve more vigorous activity, with more of the trip planned and experienced personally without support from a travel provider. And there could be some degree of personal risk of injury. Soft adventure is less physically active, usually includes more support services (such as a van to pick up straggling cyclists on a tour of the fall colors in New England, hotel accommodations at night instead of sleeping in a bedroll, etc.). However, because the two groups tend to overlap to a considerable degree (hard adventure travellers also take many soft trips).

Sung, Morrison and O’Leary (2000) propose that activity should be one of the primary bases used to analyze adventure segments. Their study examined the most commonly provided such activities, and they identified six distinctive groupings: soft nature, risk equipped, question marks, hard challenge, rugged nature, and winter snow. The Adventure Travel Society (2012) also classifies this tourism type according to activity.

They distinguish between “hard” and “soft” adventure tourism activities, where mountaineering is classified as a former activity along with activities like white water rafting, scuba diving, and mountain biking. Soft adventure activities as is reflected in publications of TIA (1998) and Simpson (1997) include camping, hiking, biking, animal watching, horseback riding, canoeing, and water skiing.

The age factor also plays an important role in increasing demand for mountaineering as adventure tourism. According to Huey et al. (2007), the gender ratio and age structure on Everest has been shifting since the first ascent in 1953. Men still outnumber women, but women are increasing in proportion and constituted approximately 10 per cent of all climbers between 2000 and 2005. The ‘greying’ of mountaineers on Everest is also apparent. In the early decades, 18.7 per cent of climbers were equal to or older than 40 years (the age at which summit rate begins to drop; figure 1.1) and only 0.3 per cent were equal to or older than 60 years (the age at which death rates increase; figure 1.1). In recent years (2000–2005), 45.6 per cent were 40 years old and above and 3.6 per cent were 60 years old and above.

Figure 1.1: Effects of age and gender on success and death of mountaineers on Mount Everest

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2.7 Geographical development of mountaineering by regions and countries

There are no reliable published statistics on the total number of people taking part each year in commercial guided mountaineering tours worldwide. The perception of major guiding companies is of a large increase during the past quarter century. Alpine Ascents (2005) reports that there is a large increase in the numbers of people wanting to go mountaineering since the mid 1980s. The big increases were in the early 90s and then in 1996–1999.

The Andes Range of South America contains the largest mountains outside of the Himalayas. Mountaineering adventure tourism in this region is characterized by relatively low interest from local climbers, but an increasing interest from international clients. Spectacular peaks with little regulation and easy access have made these ranges attractive to operators promoting more adventurous mountaineering tourism packages.

The predominant countries where trips are run include Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Some countries have been more popular than others. This depends on the aesthetic appeal of the mountains on offer, the ease of logistics, exchange rates and the possibility of civil unrest. Aconcagua is one the most visited mountains in the Andes. It is the only mountain above 7000 m outside the Himalayas, other than in the Pamirs. Several companies offer guided ascents and expedition-style support for this peak, which is by far the most popular climbing destination in this mountain range. In the 2001/02 season, the total number of people entering the provincial park to climb to the summit was 3378 (Para, 2005). Only 12 per cent of these were from Argentina. The other 88 per cent were visiting from other countries, mostly the USA. About two-thirds of these climbing groups succeeded in placing at least one person on the summit. Similar services are provided for other Andean peaks, but these are less popular than Aconcagua. The southern areas of the Andes, with their spectacular summits, also attract many climbers; but guided ascents in this region are fewer in number because of the extreme weather conditions.

Antarctica is a climbing Mecca that could become one of the most exciting climbing destinations in the world during the 21st century. In the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea region alone there are literally thousands of kilometres of unclimbed mountains.

The highest mountains around Vinson Massif are within 600 nautical miles of the South Pole.

In recent years an increasing number of yachts with climbing parties onboard have ventured into the relatively warmer areas of the northern Antarctic Peninsula after braving the infamous Drake Passage. Looking into the future this trend is likely to continue. The more easily accessible and technically varied peaks of the Peninsula are likely to become the focus of mountaineers’ attention. The cost is likely to remain high so the numbers can be expected to remain low compared to the great peaks of the Himalayas or the intensely used European Alps. Climbers from the former USSR have a proud history of mountain-climbing in the ranges of central Asia. During the Soviet era, mountaineers were supported by the State, and the strong community of climbers that developed around ‘climbing for their country’ expanded the limits of climbing in these regions. With the disintegration of the former USSR, these climbers lost their government support and many turned to adventure tourism for a new livelihood or income supplement. This was possible because the opening of the former Soviet borders allowed Westerners the opportunity to climb in ranges such as the Caucasus, Tien Shan and Pamirs, and other mountain areas such as Kamchatka, with far fewer restrictions that previously – though climbers must still be sponsored by a local company. Many companies from North America, the UK and Europe also run climbing tours in the same mountains.

More people hire guides in Europe than in the USA or in New Zealand, where there is less deference to expertise or local knowledge. The Himalayas contain the largest mountains in the world, and these attract climbers from all over the world. The main climbing countries in the Himalayas are Nepal, India, Pakistan and Tibet. In Nepal alone there are at least 491 companies that are members of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. In India and Pakistan the numbers are not as high, but the list of companies numbers in the hundreds. Many of these Himalayan companies also offer other adventure tourism packages that include trekking, cultural tours, whitewater rafting and wildlife safaris. Today, most mountaineering adventure tourism activities based in these regions take on aspects of service similar to the pioneering expeditions of yesteryear. Climbing Sherpa and porter support still form the backbone of these companies. Most of the climbing opportunities in New Zealand are in the Southern Alps on the South Island, where there is an extensive hut system managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and local climbing groups. This allows climbers to take refuge from the bad weather often encountered in this region. In the past only those qualified under New Zealand’s own system of mountain guiding certification were permitted to guide in New Zealand’s mountains. Mountaineering adventure tourism in North America has been encouraged due to several distinct characteristics: large mountainous regions close to large population centres; well developed transport infrastructure and emergency facilities; an affluent society where many people have time and money; and a culture that embraces the achievements and experiences gained through mountaineering. Many of these companies were started well before 1990, and benefited from the rise in participation rates in the early 1990s.

Most of the trips in Canada and the Lower 48 States of the USA can be experienced within a short time-frame, but climbing in Alaska, the Northern Canadian Rockies and Mexico needs more time for acclimatization, logistics and travel. Information on the number of mountaineering participants for this region is limited, but Roper ASW (2003) estimates that 8.8 million people engaged in rock climbing in the USA in the year prior to June 2003. This is 3 per cent of the total population of the USA. This proportion has not changed significantly since outdoor recreation surveys were first started in 1994. Although rock climbing is not the same as mountaineering, a small percentage of rock climbers do also participate in some form of mountaineering. As one example of recent trends in mountaineering, the increases in the numbers of climbers attempting peaks in Denali National Park, USA, from 1979 to 2004. Denali is the original name of the mountain otherwise known as Mt McKinley in Alaska. It is a popular destination for mountaineers from all over the world.

Despite the relatively low mountains, mountaineering is very popular in Great Britain and there are numerous mountain guiding companies. The mountains are only snow-covered in winter, so in summer these companies offer rock climbing courses, other outdoor activities or trips to climb overseas. Indeed, some former UK companies have now moved their operations to the Alps. According to the Mintel Report (2002) and the British Mountaineering Council (2005), there are around 1.25 million active climbers in the UK, with a large increase over the previous decade. The influence of Dick Bass and his friend Frank Wells on the increasing popularity of mountaineering and mountaineering guiding should not be underestimated. Their achievement notified about the start of the contemporary mountaineering guiding era because they proved that with assistance from experienced guides, 50-year-olds with no previous experience and only average fitness could climb the major summits of the world. Their achievement had such strong influence on the mountaineering sector that it is worth quoting at length from the book Seven Summits (Bass et al., 1987).

There are three main reasons why mountaineering adventure tourism has become so popular. Broadly, these are: the democratization of leisure opportunities; improvements in technology and know-how; and the embodiment of leisure in personal identity.

As indicated by European Commission in their report on mountain policies of countries where mountain policies are addressed to multi-sectoral development, the starting point is always mountain agriculture, but with time the relative importance of agriculture in the mountain economy has decreased, and policies have been widened to include other economic sectors (mainly tourism), public infrastructure or services, and/or environment (European Commission, 2014).

Mountaineering and adventure tourism appear to be merging. The distinctiveness of the former is, arguably, becoming subsumed by the latter within a more broadly defined consumer culture (Chaney 1996). This process has been accelerated by a fragmentation of mountaineering, with mountain adventure tourism extending its traditional breadth (climbing and walking). Today, in mountains throughout the world, mountaineering has been subdivided, re-invented and redefined. Climbing is now adventure climbing or sports climbing; abseiling has become an end in itself; hill walking in “exotic” places has been redefined as trekking; scrambling has emerged as a hybrid activity with its own definitive guidebooks; cycling has moved “off-road” as mountain biking; “canyoning” has emerged as an adventure activity, and bungee jumping is now well developed. Hudson (2000) has provided a study of the skiing industry, a sport that has undergone a similar fragmentation and diversification, to make it possible to even go “snow rafting” at Seefeld in Austria.

2.8 Conclusions

While conducting this research, investigations have proved that mountaineering is:

1. One of the popular tourism trends that contributes to development of adventure tourism due to urbanization and expansion of cities

Mountains in particular have long been searched as tourism destinations but have hitherto remained mainly under the auspices of mountaineers: people who actively and independently seek adventure and who would not recognize themselves as tourists (Collister 1984; Scott 1994).

As Bernbaum (1997) describes well, mountains are also spiritual centres, places of power, abodes of deities, places of worship, paradises, divine ancestors of the dead, and sources of blessings, inspiration, revelation and transformation. Mountains can provide evasion destinations that suggest excitement, stimulation and potential adventure.

2. Considered as one of the activities to be implemented in fighting against the stagnation of physical activity among the population

The democratization of leisure opportunities, improvements in technology and know-how, and the embodiment of leisure in personal identity are three primary reasons why mountaineering adventure tourism has become so popular.

Buckley et al, like other authors, view the mountains as another motivation to seek adventure and to participate in recreational sports.

3. One of the accessible and cost-effective tourism activities

Mountain adventure tourism is a business enterprise. As with other industries, competition characterizes the adventure tourism market and big companies have a tendency to dominate. Small independent companies offering specific personalized itineraries such as White Peak Mountaineering find it difficult to compete with large international companies like Explore, Himalayan Kingdoms, and Exodus. According to sources, mountain areas are generating 15-20 percent of annual global tourism, or US$70-90 billion per year (UNEP 2007).

4. A field with broad geography where it is feasible to develop adventure tourism as one of tourism business activities, particularly in developing countries

The geography of developing mountaineering as adventure tourism is very broad. The collapse of the former USSR resulted in a reduction of governmental support for mountaineering and this circumstance, in its turn, created favorable conditions and opportunities to develop this sector of tourism within this region’s enormous territorial space. This has been done on the basis of private investments into the areas of the former Soviet Union, as well as into the mountain areas such as the Caucasus, Tien Shan, and the Pamirs. The Antarctic areas are also being explored for mountaineering development.

The Himalayas contain the largest mountains in the world, and these attract climbers from all over the globe. The main climbing countries in the Himalayas are Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Tibet. Many of these Himalayan companies also offer other adventure tourism packages that include trekking, cultural tours, whitewater rafting, and wildlife safaris.

CHAPTER III Methodology

3.1 Introduction

This research is dedicated to investigating the role of mountaineering in developing adventure tourism in Azerbaijan. For this reason, the main purpose is to conduct research into the role of mountaineering, as well as to investigate the current state of mountaineering and its impact on development of adventure tourism.

3.2 Defining Research

This study used qualitative research techniques. The focus is qualitative in that it closely scrutinizes the reasons, the strengths, and the weaknesses of mountaineering through the experiences and stories of the relevant participants (Glesne, 1999; Merriam, 1988). A qualitative approach was considered more relevant to undertake this research as it allowed greater capacity to gain more detailed and meaning based on individuals’ unique experiences of unemployment along with their beliefs and feelings, as opposed to a quantitative approach which is more structured, broader in scale and more numerically based.

A qualitative methodology employs powerful tools for research in management and arises from a diversity of disciplines that include sociology, psychology, education and anthropology (Gummesson, 1991). If the older discipline of qualitative research includes interviewing and collection of representative samples of the population, the qualitative research is mainly a diagnostic tool to reveal certain issues and thoroughly chosen respondents with regard to these issues (Domegan and Fleming, 1999). Thus, qualitative research is particularly engaged in comprehending issues rather than measuring them.

Qualitative and quantitative methodologies have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Generally, the selection of technique depends on the type of research, the sample size and the time limitations. Gordon and Langmaid (1988) consider that qualitative research is best employed for issues where the outcomes will improve comprehension, broaden knowledge, reveal real problems, form a hypothesis, define a set of behaviours, and investigate and elucidate consumer motivation, attitudes and behaviours.

3.3 Research Focus, Aims and Objectives

This research will focus on the development of mountaineering as one of the types of adventure tourism in Azerbaijan.

3.4 Research aims/Goals

The aim/goal of this research is to investigate the impact of mountaineering on the development of adventure tourism in Azerbaijan.

3.5 Research Objectives

2. To identify natural and geographical conditions for developing mountaineering in Azerbaijan;

3. To investigate the current state of developing mountaineering as adventure tourism throughout the regions of Azerbaijan;

4. To study opportunities for developing mountaineering in regions of Azerbaijan.

3.6 Research Hypotheses

Following from the research focus, objectives, and aims is the research hypothesis. The hypothesis is that mountaineering will play an essential role in the development adventure tourism in Azerbaijan. The most basic qualitative research will prove or disprove this hypothesis.

3.7 Rationale for Using Qualitative Research

Basically, there are two major research paradigms, quantitative and qualitative (Creswell, 1994; Gay & Airasian, 1996). The quantitative research paradigm, which has often been referred to as “traditional” or “scientific,” (Kim, 1989, p. 1) is based on numbers to interpret a phenomenon under study. It rests its evidence on the logic of mathematics, the principle of numbers, and the methods of statistical analysis and resorts to the statistical variables for interpretation (Meyer, 1988). On the other hand, the qualitative paradigm tries to preserve the form and essence of human behaviour and to analyze its qualities, rather than subject it to mathematical or other transformations (Lindlof, 1995).

Many quantitative research perspectives hold that there is a single, objective reality - the world out there - that we can observe and know, which is measurable through deductive procedures (Merriam, 1988), while qualitative research is based on the assumption that the world is not an objective one, but exists in multiple realities or multiple facets. The world is a highly subjective phenomenon in need of interpretation rather than mathematical measurement. It exists as a result of human interaction and perceptions which can only be explored and discovered through meaningful description and interpretation. Merriam (1988) describes qualitative research as exploratory and inductive, emphasizing processes rather than ends.

The quantitative approach has been criticized for its lack of focus or meaning, its lack of context, and the lack of interaction between researchers and subjects. When Eisner argues for the use of artistic and other qualitative modes in research, he indicates that no concepts can be formed without internal or external stimulation (Eisner, 1981), and,

“the forms concepts take are as diverse as our sensory capacities and the abilities we have developed to use them” (Eisner, 1981, p. 49). Qualitative research is based on the information gained through watching, listening, touching, feeling, smelling, tasting and interacting. “The sources of knowledge are at least as diverse as the range of information provided by the senses. Each of the senses provides a unique content that is not replicable by other sense modalities” (Eisner, 1979, p. 14).

3.8 Research Design

The two fundamental methodologies of qualitative research are the interview and the group/focus discussion. The major advantage of the qualitative interview is its capability/capacity to reveal more detailed responses to questions than may have been collected by survey research (Domegan and Fleming, 1999). Taking into consideration the fact that this research requires a more detailed comprehension of mutually beneficial dependency, a focus group discussion would not have been as useful as an interview. The type of interview employed in this research was a semi-structured interview applying a questionnaire. However, this method may entail limitations while gathering appropriate information.

Domegan and Fleming (1999) state that the advantage of the one-to-one qualitative interview is that it may encourage respondents to uncover attitudes or motives that are not desired to be discussed in a group setting. However, Domegan and Fleming (1999) also argue that interviews have some weaknesses. For example, the main weakness is that it is more complicated to achieve the appropriate representation. According to Gordon and Langmaid (1988), respondents start deliberating when they encounter questions like “how”, “why”, or “what” rather than “how many”. In this regard, the interview questionnaire was devised to concentrate on subjective views.

3.9 Secondary Research

The secondary research is conducted by referring to secondary sources that include the oral and written testimony of people not immediately present at the time of the given event. They are documents written or objects created by others that relate to a specific research question or area of research interest (Rubin and Babbie, 2005). These elements represent second-hand or hearsay accounts of someone, some event, or some development. Secondary sources may include textbooks, encyclopedias, oral histories of individuals or a group, journal articles, newspaper stories, and even obituary notices (Heaton, 2004, Leedy and Ormrod, 2005).

During this stage, all-round desk research was conducted, especially with regard to the theoretical basis which underpins the study. Thus, many literature resources, journal articles, and reports pertaining to tourism, adventure tourism, and mountaineering were thoroughly scrutinised.

3.10 Primary Research

The primary research is conducted by referring to the sources that involve the oral and written testimony of eyewitnesses. These sources may be original artifacts, documents, and items associated with the direct result of an event or an experience (Salkind, 2008). They may involve documents, photographs, recordings, diaries, journals, life histories, drawings, mementos or other relics.

The primary research was conducted on the development of mountaineering by addressing various organisations operating in the field of tourism. Thus, it became possible to investigate the extent of the prevalence of this type of tourism among the population of Azerbaijan. Interviews and questionnaires were considered the most expedient tools or instruments to conduct this research. To make the investigation more detailed, the research was conducted in three phases.

The first phase of research investigated the general state of development of mountaineering and its popularity among the population in Azerbaijan, which is an indicator of the attractiveness and the development of mountaineering. To conduct this research, the investigators decided to interview tour operators in Azerbaijan, particularly in the capital city, Baku. By means of these interviews, the activities of five tour operators of the thirty-two most popular tour operators in Azerbaijan were investigated. From these interviews, it was possible to ascertain the state of mountaineering, its attractiveness to the populace, and the major challenges faced in the field of mountaineering in Azerbaijan.

This stage of the research process involved interviewing representatives of tour operators arranging tours throughout Azerbaijan; namely, five companies located in

Baku including “AL-Travel”, “ATA Travel”, “Billur Tur”, “AzDipServis” and “Caspian Travel Agency”. These companies were selected because they directly engage in catering to the needs of tourists. These five companies were contacted through telephoning certain representatives in advance to arrange an appointment for individual interviews. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in all five interviews to facilitate the interpretation and differentiation of findings to some extent. Unfortunately, only four tour operators could be interviewed in person. These interviews lasted forty minutes each. Only one tour operator was individually interviewed by telephone. This interview lasted thirty minutes. One negative element encountered during this interview was the reluctance of the respondent to disseminate information over the phone. However, the telephone interview was conducted successfully by reassuring the respondent that the interview was private and confidential, and only for the purpose of achieving certain research goals.

The second phase investigated the development of adventure tourism, and particularly the role of mountaineering in developing adventure tourism in Azerbaijan. To conduct the research, interviews with organisations specializing in mountaineering were conducted. Mountaineering was chosen because it represents an extreme type of adventure tourism activity. Azerbaijan Mountaineering Federation was selected for interviewing in this respect as it directly deals with mountaineering issues.

The third phase covered the development of mountaineering as one of many tourism activities contributing to the greater tourism industry, as well as an exploration of the business environment for this type of activity. To explore the state of development, as well as further perspectives in this field, interviews were scheduled with the representatives of governmental entities, namely the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Gusar region’s municipal office. These entities were chosen as they are directly responsible for supporting and improving an appropriate tourism environment.

The second and third stages of the research process, respectively, involved visiting the Azerbaijan Mountaineering Federation, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Gusar region’s municipal office. This was accomplished through telephoning the relevant representatives to arrange an appointment for individual interviews in advance. Each interview lasted thirty-five minutes. The same approach was taken with regard to unwillingness and confidentiality.

3.11 Sample Selection

The sample selection for this research was made by simple random sampling and purposive sampling in two geographical areas – Baku City and the Gusar region.

Baku City was chosen as a sample because all tour operators are located in this city. Five tour operators were chosen from a list of the 32 main tour operating companies shown in Azerbaijan Travel (2013) on the basis of the random sampling method and according to the travel distance involved, in order to save time and expense. The Gusar region was selected as a paradigm to investigate the development of mountaineering among relatively favourable conditions to develop adventure tourism. It is considered to be among the most appropriate regions for mountain tourism, particularly in terms of saving time and expense.



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Title: Adventure tourism in Azerbaijan and the role of mountaineering in its development