Global Warming and Tourism

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2006 CialspoladaOver the last two winters, we've had the good fortune to find ourselves in Fondo, Italy on January sixth. This tiny alpine town in Trentino, a very Austrian influenced region of Italy, hosts La Ciaspolada, a snowshoe race that attracts athletes and tourists from around the world. It's a fun run, a festival, a hard core race, and a great time. This year we missed it - I'm stateside, working. This year, also, there was no snow. When a little town's big event unravels due to lack of precipitation, you can't help but ask: What's the impact of global warming on tourism?

The Adirondack Almanac notes the impact the sunny 60s weather is having on the locals.

Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that's there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.

Save and Conserve asks about the impact of global warming on the US ski industry.

Any industry that relies on snow or consistently cold temperatures for the bulk of its revenue is obviously treading on thin ice in 2007 and years beyond. This season may be the final nail in the coffin for several more American ski areas. I wonder what other industries will be negatively impacted by global warming. I wonder what will happen to states like Vermont, where tourism drives the local economy.

Some folks are seeing a silver lining - tourism in previously challenging areas. From the Pew Research Center:

An international team of economists predict that by the end of the century the expected rise in temperature will make many current tourist hot spots a bit too toasty while making some currently chilly places warm enough to entice fair-weather travelers.

Sustainable Travel says we need to fly less. Ouch.

Well we all need to fly less, a lot less. One way to do this is to cut out the dramatic increase in short breaks on cheap flights. The only way that this will happen is if the price of flights rises considerably. We need to tell the politicians that we will only vote for parties that are prepared to make the tough choices required to make this happen.

And TerraPass offers a carbon emissions offset program.

This is an important development for the travel industry and for the fight against global warming. Air travel has exploded in popularity as the cost of plane tickets has dropped. But planes create a large and growing proportion of global warming pollution. For frequent flyers, plane travel creates more emissions than their cars.

As a frequent flyer and travel addict, it's hard to accept that my junkets across the planet are intimately connected with the wallets of the hotel owners in tiny Fondo. But as a sometimes resident of a region powered by snow, I know first hand the truth of the matter. Weather directly impacts tourism. And global warming? Global warming impacts tourism on a global scale.

Photo from Ciaspolada, 2006.

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