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Climate Change Impact Assessment of Ski Tourism in Tyrol

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Abstract:

Climate change poses a serious threat to the highly snow-dependent ski tourism industry. In this paper the potential impacts of climate change on ski areas in Tyrol (Austria, Italy) are investigated. A ski season and snowmaking simulation model ‘SkiSim2’ was applied to 111 ski areas. Model results suggest that all ski areas could ensure a 100-days season until the 2030s to the 2040s (high/low emission scenario) assuming a 100% snowmaking coverage and state-of-the-art snowmaking system. The Christmas holidays are a particularly sensitive season period, where already in the 2020s some ski areas do not fulfil economic thresholds. A warming greater than 3°C would force most ski areas to close their business not considering developments in snowmaking technology and economic thresholds of snowmaking costs. Regarding the snow demand to ensure a 100-days season independent of any technological limits, snow production would have to be multiplied by up to a factor of 4. It is questionable whether all ski areas will be able to afford the increasing snowmaking costs and therefore the most vulnerable regions should rethink their touristic positioning.

Keywords: Ski tourism; Tyrol; adaptation; climate change; snow model; snowmaking

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2012.762539

Affiliations: 1: Tourism Business Studies, MCI – Management Center Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria 2: Institute of Geography,University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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