The Impact of Climate Change on Winter Tourism in the Swiss Alps

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1670 Words
Date:  2021-04-12

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The Impact of Climate Change in Winter Tourism in the Swiss Alps

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Word count: 2286

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Table of Contents

1. Literature Review 3
1.1 Overview of Themes 3
1.2 Climate Change 3
1.2.1. Climate Change in Swiss Alps 4
1.3 Winter Tourism 6
1.3.1 Winter Tourism in Swiss Alps 6
1.4 Relations between Climate Change and Winter Tourism 7
2. Conclusion 9
3. Reference List 11

1. Literature Review: The Impact of Climate Change on Winter Tourism in the Swiss Alps

1.1 Overview of Themes

There has been a significant change in regional and global climate patterns since the onset of the twentieth century due to amplified levels of Green House Gases (GHGs). Swiss Alps is not an exception as the climate change is taking a toll on the region presenting a great danger to all life forms relying on its resources in the area for survival. Winter tourism, which is the leading income generating activity in the area, is one of the sectors suffering the most from climate change. The concept of climate change is of particular interest to tourism and hospitality industry because the industry is among the principal contributors of GHGs with the scientists projecting emissions from the industry to rise by 130% in 2035 (Koenig & Abegg, 2010). Furthermore, tourism is one of the vital elements of economies of many nations and the worldwide economy, the chief funding instrument of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Since climate change affects tourism industry is directly and indirectly, there is a need for exploration and research to recommend appropriate measures for reducing the menace. The purpose of the literature review section is to explore the concepts of climate change and winter tourism. The theme under the climate change aspect includes climate change in Swiss Alps while the subject for examining winter travels is the description of winter tourism in the Swiss Alps region. Lastly, the other section will link all the items with the objective of showcasing how climate change has impacted winter travel and sports in Swiss Alps.

1.2 Climate Change

As an issue that is attracting global attention, there are numerous studies conducted to explore the theme of climate change. Significant contributors to the climate change literature are scientific communities, environment and climate-related institutions such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Environmental Protection Agency. Most of the authors agree with the definition of climate change as significant variations in weather patterns and other affiliated changes in ice sheets, land surfaces, oceans and atmospheric conditions (Steiger, 2010; Damm, Koberl, & Prettenthaler, 2012). Other scholars, such as Elsasser and Messerli (2012), use the concepts of global warming and climate change interchangeably to refer to an upswing in the average atmospheric temperature. It is possible to relate the triggers of climate change in Swiss Alps from the scientific communities such as NASA. NASA (2016) defines the concept of climate change in statistical perspective saying that it represents the variations in the climate systems analytical elements like extremes, variability, and averages of climatic conditions for as long as 30 years (NASA, 2016).

1.2.1. Climate Change in Swiss Alps

Climate change in the form of global warming in responsible for the glacier recession in Swiss Alp for the past two centuries. It is evident from the gradual migration and shift of Alpine terrestrial and aquatic plants upward at a maximum rate of 4 meters in every decade. Furthermore, global warming in Swiss Alps is responsible for the reduction of the length of winter and extending summers making them drier and warmer. Furthermore, the rising Alpine climate temperatures due to changes in climate is responsible for the rock falls, and rock slides evident from the cases of Matterhorn and Eiger mountains. Laternser and Schneebeli (2003) predict that in the next decade if there is no prevention of global warming, Alpine climate will move towards the north hence changing flora and fauna in Swiss Alps. Furthermore, half of the glaciers will melt away, and despite the present of snow, they will not sustain winter sports. Scholars differ regarding the extent to which natural and artificial factors cause climate change in Swiss Alps. Some authors, such as Duglio and Beltramo (2016), attribute the occurrence of climate change largely to human activities such as industrialization, fossil fuel burning, and poor farming practices which contribute to aerosols, GHGs, and carbon dioxide gas. Putz et al. (2011) attest that from the onset of the mechanization period in the 1750s, the influence of the human activities on climate became the leading contributor to global warming. Damm, Koberl, and Prettenthaler (2012) suggest that 70% of GHGs accrue from human activities which alter the thermal and solar radiation. As a result of the aerosols and GHGs from human activities altering the properties and composition of atmospheric abundance, it leads to global warming. On the other hand, sources from scientific communities such as NASA and EPA attribute the occurrence of climate change to natural events (NASA, 2016). While they do not completely out-shadow the role of human influences, they focus mainly on the natural progressions over the years such as climate system's internal variability, volcanic eruptions, and radiations from the sun (POW, 2015).

According to IPCC (2016), there is a compelling evidence showing that climate changes are affecting the Earth. Scientific research through the application of technologically advanced earth-orbiting satellites shows that our planet is slowly succumbing to the impacts of global warming. For instance, NASA (2016) report shows that 2016 registered the highest global temperature index of 0.99 0 C since 1884. Other bodies of data from previous research indicate the signs of disastrous changes in climate. NASA (2016) flew special tools for determining the capacity of the trapped heat and infrared energy to affect the atmosphere, and the results of the research showed that GHGs at increased levels have the capability of warming the Earth. In the regions around Swiss Alps and entire Switzerland, climate change has diverse effects on the ecosystems such as severe weather conditions and events, wildfires, rise in the levels of water bodies and encroachment of droughts and desert-like conditions (Duglio & Beltramo, 2016). One of the visible impacts of climate change in Swiss Alps is fluctuations in climatic conditions such as the alteration in lengths of summer and winter periods. In a study conducted by Steiger (2010) in Switzerlands high-altitude regions such as the Alpine regions, increased temperatures, and solar radiation leads to melting of ice and snow, violent storms, flooding and intense summer heats.

1.3 Winter Tourism

Tourism is an act of moving or traveling to new places for relaxation or business purposes. Winter tourism, on the other hand, is a type of tourism that occur during the winter period, between late December and April, where people travel to areas where cold weather promote exciting activities such as skiing and snow-shoeing and other related sports.

1.3.1 Winter Tourism in Swiss Alps

One of the countries that benefit the most from winter tourism is Switzerland due to location and Mediterranean climate what make it a favorable tourism spot during the winter as landscapes and the Alpine climate draw a huge number of visitors (Putz, et al., 2011). The major tourists attraction activities include winter sports such as mountaineering, snowshoe trekking, and skiing. The Swiss government has been keen on maintaining the reputation as the desirable winter destination which by 2011 alone was already accounting for approximately 3% of Switzerlands GDP (Koenig & Abegg, 2010). At the heart of Swiss Alps are Lake Geneva, Luzern and Bern whose sceneries contribute to the Swiss famous tourism attraction sites from serene lakes, steep valleys, and high peaks that glaciers and snow fill during winter are hence facilitating world-class winter activities. In a research conducted by Elsasser and Messerli (2012) at snowmobiling and ski resorts in Braunwald, Scuol, and Davos region in Swiss Alps that are the leading tourist's sites, there were approximately 23 million visitors who took part in sporting activities during their winter stay between 2007 and 2010. An implication of the research is that winter tourism in Switzerland has significant economic value as the activities associated with winter leisure generate revenues through visitors spending in ski sporting events and resorts (Koenig & Abegg, 2010).

1.4 Relations between Climate Change and Winter Tourism

Climate change in Swiss Alps is attributable to the significant reduction of snow. The success of winter tourism is dependent heavily on the snow which is the reason behind the universal concept of snow-dependent summers (Laternser & Schneebeli, 2003). In the recent past, Swiss Alps has been experiencing shorter, and warmer winters. Consequently, it has affected the winter tourism sector significantly. According to Steiger (2010) winter tourism sectors is heavily reliant on the steady, substantial and predictable snowfall. As a proof that snow reliability is affecting the Swiss winter tourism industry, the government has, in the recent past, invested heavily on the technical making of snow as a measure to avert the reduction in snow, ice, and glaciers due to increasing atmospheric temperatures. Elsasser and Messerli (2012) in their study discovered that in future, Swiss Alps region would not satisfy the principle of the 100-day reliability of snow. The rule states that for the quantity of natural snow to be reliable, it should rise by 30 cm which is the minimum favorable condition to serve skiing and snow sports activities. Furthermore, in regions such as Braunwald, Scuol and Davos are continuously adopting technical strategies of making snow to sustain tourism activities and serve as insurance for the unreliable presence of natural snow. A similar study on the US winter tourism by the Protect Our Winters (POW) in 2015 details historical variations in winter seasons and adverse changes in the winter tourists statistics hence revealing the uncertainty in the future of winter tourism (POW, 2015). The attributable factor for the changes in the snow in Swiss Alps and other places prone to attract winter activities is climate change which is the leading c...

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The Impact of Climate Change on Winter Tourism in the Swiss Alps. (2021, Apr 12). Retrieved from

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