Foreword by the President

Foreword by the President


In 1959, OITAF was founded as an international umbrella organization for ropeway operators, manufacturers, public authorities as well as other institutions from the field of ropeway research and development with the objective of jointly shaping technical, economic and legal developments as well as addressing challenges and problems together.

In the course of its history of almost 65 years, OITAF has witnessed, and contributed to, many developments. International regulations and guidelines also prompted OITAF and its members to re-invent and re-orientate themselves. Thus, OITAF and its six expert committees take on new challenges again and again. The recommendations and field reports of OITAF, which are prepared by the expert committees and published after adoption by the Management Committee, provide helpful guidance especially in new markets.

Re-orientation and transformation are characteristics of further development, and the exchange of experiences in networks is becoming more important than ever.

The concept of computerized autonomous operation has already entered the world of ropeways. Analyses of ropeway accidents show that organizational and human factors related to operators regularly play a role in such incidents.

Autonomous ropeways can be run without personnel in the stations. Case-specific adjustments are also demanded by public authorities issuing permits. In combination with the know-how of qualified operating staff, smart and networked technology delivers maximum safety.

Interest in ropeway technology has several facets. In urban areas, ropeways gain more and more importance in view of growing residential areas and rising congestion. In this setting, however, the difficulties and obstacles faced differ widely from those encountered in mountain regions or tourism areas. OITAF shares experiences made in current urban ropeway projects, information on problems related to the integration of local public transport and urban development as well as related consequences for meaningful application areas of various systems and typical problems occurring in project implementation.

On a global scale, the ropeway market is growing.

Investments in urban areas are particularly strong in South and Central America, for example in Mexico and Bolivia.

Classic ropeway projects implemented in Alpine countries and North America significantly enhance the quality of service and, as a result, give a further boost to tourism. Scandinavia expands its ski resorts. Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France revitalize their ropeways.

In parallel to winter tourism, the potential of ropeways is also increasingly harnessed in summer tourism as well as recreational tourism, as can be seen in centers such as Saudi Arabia.

Those international development highlight that OITAF also has an important role to play today. High safety standards have to be established and maintained all over the world. The awareness of new operators has to be raised in this respect.

OITAF Recommendations, such as those on the relocation of existing ropeway installations, are highly appreciated especially in countries lacking ropeway-specific regulations but also in other countries. In many cases, they facilitate the implementation of projects for all stakeholders.

Moreover, it is our task to ensure not only safety, but also the sustainable operation of ropeways so that ecological, economic and social interests are defended. Sustainability is not merely a modern buzzword, but affects every sphere of life. Every ropeway company can make a contribution towards striking a balance between ecology and economy.

The International Ropeway Congress held every six years offers opportunities for international exchanges. The last one took place in 2017 in Bolzano where the Secretariat General of OITAF is headquartered.

From June 17 to 21, 2024, all those interested in ropeways have again the opportunity to listen to interesting presentations on new technologies and projects and exchange experiences with colleagues at the International Ropeway Congress of OITAF in Vancouver, Canada.