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Modeling the Influence of Weather Variability on Leisure Traffic

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Weather conditions often have an important influence on participation in recreation and tourism (R&T) activities, and many activities require specific sets of weather conditions to make them enjoyable or possible. Despite the intuitive nature of the relationship between weather and R&T participation, this topic has received little attention in the academic literature. This is even more surprising given increasing recognition of the likely implications of climate change for R&T activities. In light of this lack of research, the purpose of this article is to describe the development of a daily model of leisure traffic activity for a location within the US state of Michigan. Specifically, the model allowed investigation of the impacts of three sets of factors—weather conditions, economic conditions, and the availability of leisure time—on daily leisure traffic counts across the four seasons. Experimentation with a series of five functional forms revealed that a double-log formulation best fit the data. As expected, temperature had a statistically significant, positive effect on tourism traffic in spring, summer, and fall. Precipitation did not influence leisure traffic in the spring and summer seasons; in fall, however, a significant negative effect was detected, and this effect was even stronger in winter. The availability of leisure time had a highly significant, positive impact on daily leisure traffic. These findings have important implications for the providers of recreation and tourism opportunities, enabling them to model projected changes in leisure traffic with short-term and longer term variations in key variables such as temperature and precipitation. For example, destinations might consider the kinds of additional activities and facilities that could improve their attractiveness and competitiveness under projected conditions of climate change, and begin to incorporate those activities and facilities into their future planning and marketing efforts.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-10-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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