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Implications of Climate Change for Outdoor Event Planning: A Case Study of Three Special Events in Canada's National Capital Region

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Weather and climate play an important role in the success of many outdoor special events, including the quality of visitor experiences. In spite of the growing importance of event tourism to many communities in Canada and the US, research examining the influence of current weather and climate on event planning, or event tourism more broadly, is very limited. Consequently, the potential implications of climate change for event planning and tourism has yet to be explored. This article presents the findings of the first known assessment of climate change on event tourism in North America. A case study of Canada's National Capital Region was used to better understand the current impact of weather and climate on three high-profile outdoor events planned by the National Capital Commission (NCC) (Winterlude, the Canadian Tulip Festival, and Canada Day celebrations), and to assess the potential impact of climate change on the NCC's long-term event planning. Climate change is projected to have a meaningful impact on the success of some special events by altering the ability of the NCC to maintain ice-based attractions (skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway), changing tulip phenology to cause a mismatch with current Festival dates, and increasing the need for heat emergency planning during Canada Day. Possible adaptation strategies to respond to the challenges of climate change are also discussed, as are some general implications for event management.
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Keywords: ADAPTATION; CANADA; CLIMATE CHANGE; EVENT PLANNING; FESTIVAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2006

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  • Event Management, an International Journal, intends to meet the research and analytic needs of a rapidly growing profession focused on events. This field has developed in size and impact globally to become a major business with numerous dedicated facilities, and a large-scale generator of tourism. The field encompasses meetings, conventions, festivals, expositions, sport and other special events. Event management is also of considerable importance to government agencies and not-for-profit organizations in a pursuit of a variety of goals, including fund-raising, the fostering of causes, and community development.
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