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EUSALP and the challenge of multi-level governance policies in the Alps

Francesca Teston (Institute for Regional Development, EURAC Research, Bolzano, Italy)
Alberto Bramanti (Department of Public Management and Policy Analysis, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy and Centre for Research on Regional Economics, Transport and Tourism, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




“Wide area cooperation” may be the ultimate challenge within transnational cooperation processes. Although the Alps share a remarkable history of mutual collaboration, they are facing the challenge of a new sustainable-coordination paradigm. The Alpine territories are at a turning point. They are striving for a new governance arrangement and trying to avoid both the Scylla of top-town dirigisme and the Charybdis of poor local governments. This paper aims to address the recent literature on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) macro-regional strategy; provide some insights into the role that EUSALP could play as ultimate coordinator of the numerous networks operating in the Alpine space; and discuss a workable division of labour among the different actors that can ensure a renewed focus on sustainable development.


The review addresses two main strands of literature related to “wide area cooperation” and “multi-level governance” to synthesise the debate on the most appropriate governance structure for the Alps. The paper examines, dating back to 2000, the recent history of bottom-up projects related to sustainable tourism in the western arc of the Alps. The study uses a subset of best practices to evaluate the emerging governance frame.


The main outcomes of this study are a framework for a theoretical debate on the most appropriate governance structure for the Alps, guidance for policymakers on a division of labour among different stakeholders that can promote sustainable tourism in the Alps and a set of suggestions for practitioners. Further, the study acknowledges “sustainable tourism” as a highly relevant field to the emergence of bottom-up arrangements aimed at developing workable governance agreements.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a state-of-the-art framework for “wide area cooperation” in the Alps and serves as a basis for discussion between academics and practitioners. As EUSALP is still in its infancy, its success will depend on the pro-active involvement of national stakeholders. In the case of Italy, this is all but granted because of the current unstable political situation.


This paper provides a rigorous framework for addressing top-down strategies and bottom-up planning in the Alpine space. The study also makes a practical contribution by addressing some topics of interest to policymakers.



The authors acknowledge the University of Aosta for financial support, CERTeT, Bocconi University for a multi-year project on cross-border cooperation and macro-regional strategies and the Institute for Regional Development of EURAC Research and its inspiring and vibrant applied research environment. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and can, in no way, be attributed to their respective institutions.


Teston, F. and Bramanti, A. (2018), "EUSALP and the challenge of multi-level governance policies in the Alps", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 140-160.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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