Behavioural adaptation of skiers to climate change in Ontario (2015)

Using an in-situ survey, this study examined how skiers in Ontario would change their skiing participation patterns if their preferred ski resort were closed due to a lack of snow. The survey focuses on current behavioural responses, rather than decisions based on future scenarios of climate change. Analysis revealed that substitution behaviours differ based on the duration of the ski area closure (e.g. one day, partial season, permanent) and that beginner and infrequent skiers, as well as parents with children enrolled in ski lessons, were more likely to ski less and/or stop skiing altogether, while experienced and core skiers are more likely to find another place to ski. Season pass holders and those at large resorts were also more likely to switch resorts. Based on the results, the authors project that skiers will concentrate at resorts that remain climatically operable, which will have important management implications with respect to individual resort capacity, visitor experience (e.g., crowding), and consequent impacts on surrounding ski area businesses and communities. Climatically advantaged ski areas and communities (e.g. those with lots of snow and high altitudes) will need to prepare for development pressures, including investments in ski terrain expansion and infrastructure to increase snowmaking capacity (including water access and storage), as well as ease increased crowding on trails, in parking lots, inside chalets and lift lines.

Rutty, M., Scott, D., Johnson, P., Jover, E., Pons, M., Steiger, R. (2015). Behavioural adaptation of skiers to climactic variability and change in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 11, 13-21.

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