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Grand Alpine Tour - Lesson one

Key questions

What was a ‘Grand Tour’?

Why do people continue to visit the Alps?

How do the Alps continue to challenge visitors?

How might we manage some of these challenges?

What are Alpine countries doing to manage the threats to their mountain environments?


Before introducing the Alps as the study area, show the quote in ‘Introducing the Grand Tour Presentation’. Alternatively this can be provided via ‘Introducing the Grand Tour Handout’.

Ask students to guess where the writer is describing. This could be done via an open discussion; via staff feedback with each answer (suggesting when they are closer or further away than the previous answer); via students could placing a named sticky note on the map (if projected through an IWB); or via students marking the map on the handout with their chosen place.

Here staff might want to show students the area in question using Google Earth or ArcGIS online. Moving the presentation on, students can see the quote is from an eighteenth century ‘tourist’ named William Thomas Beckford who wrote a series of letters whilst on his ‘tour’. This quote is from 20 January 1781, when he wrote home describing his journey through the Tyrol region of what is today Southern Germany / Northern Switzerland. There is further information on ‘Grand Tours’ in ‘More Information about the Grand Tours and Tourists’.

A further discussion can be had about how this viewpoint of the Alps would be different to one today. Key points which students should be able to recognise are:

  • The hostile way the early tourist viewed the Alps

  • The lack of reference to winter sports (such as skiing)

  • The tourist noting how infrequently he sees other people

Main Activity

As a class, a quick SWOT analysis of Alpine tourism could be conducted using ‘SWOT Analysis Handout’.

Each of four groups could be given one of each of the categories to comment on.

  • Strengths – the benefits of Alpine tourism

  • Weaknesses – the costs of Alpine tourism

  • Opportunities – the circumstances that are creating more Alpine tourism or making it better

  • Threats – the circumstances that are endangering the future of Alpine tourism

Using the further framework of Economic / Environmental / Social will help students to cover the different angles required for the task

Students can then cut out some of their ideas and use them as a basis of a ‘living’ Butler Model. This can be done via a copy of ‘Living Butler Model Handout’ printed on A3 paper or a projection of ‘Living Butler Model Presentation’ onto an IWB which students can stick their ideas to with sticky tack

For this task, students read each of their statements and decide where on the graph they should place it in order for it to make sense as a piece of geographical narrative.

A class discussion can be had surrounding areas of consensus or disagreement.

More information on The Butler Model is found in ‘More Information about the Butler Model Handout’.


Students should be given a copy of ‘Alpine Convention on Sustainable Tourism Handout’.

Reading the handout, students can pick out any management technique that they feel would manage one of the threats they have identified.

Feedback on this can be given as a class, including how good the Alpine Convention on Sustainable Tourism is in general.