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A Report From the IMBA Europe Summit 2023

Published on

Earlier this year, the North East Adventure Tourism (NEAT) project was invited to Valposchiavo, Switzerland, to contribute to the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Europe Summit 2023.

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Alongside Audun Lutnæs from Urort in Norway and Phillip Bont from Bellwald Bike Park in Switzerland, NEAT Project Manager Will Clarke delivered a session on ‘Regions in Transformation’. This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of NEAT and partners and learn from other regions focusing on adventure tourism and regenerating rural communities with strategies aligned with our ambitions in Aberdeenshire.

Throughout the summit, there were opportunities to attend workshops, forums and discussions to learn from other countries, brands and companies about the trends, challenges and future predictions for the MTB and cycling sector, alongside insight from kit manufacturers and product developers about the current market position and where it may go in both short and long term.

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In addition, we supported staff from CRC Trails and volunteers from Aberdeenshire Trail Association (ATA) to travel to the summit to further their knowledge of best practices in trail building/maintenance, make new industry connections and showcase some of their incredible achievements.

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The event incorporated IMBA’s Take Care of Your Trails awards, recognising outstanding contributions to trail maintenance and development across Europe. ATA was recognised for its continued excellence with the ‘Protect and Preserve’ award for commitment to sustainable practice. Nowhere was this better illustrated than when the film ‘Winds of Change’ was shown on the big screen – a project featuring ATA, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, NEAT and Manon Carpenter supported by Patagonia and Specialized Soil Searching reflecting on the challenges faced after Storm Arwen.

A significant takeaway was how many parallels we could draw between the host village Valposchiavo and many of our Aberdeenshire and other Scottish riding and adventure locations. It was inspirational to see how a small community in Switzerland has seized the opportunity to embrace mountain biking and adventure tourism, changing the focus of their tourism offer in a way we are doing at home.

A huge thanks to IMBA Europe for a brilliant event, NEAT project partners for their continued support, the CRC Trails and ATA attendees for giving up their time to contribute and all the contacts from across Europe and the world for sharing their insights.

The summit was an excellent opportunity to showcase Aberdeenshire as a destination, highlight the positive impact of adventure tourism locally, and confirm that we are in tune with the broader sector. While taking reassurance that Aberdeenshire’s profile is higher than ever, we returned with new ideas and insight into how we can support further development of the adventure tourism sector locally and with new connections who may, in time, play their part in transforming Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire into a world-class destination.


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