Maybe the industry can come up with stay-at-home (i.e., stay-cation) packages.
The Vancouver Sun reports,
Kitzbühel is an international ski resort in the Austrian Alps, renowned for hosting the Hahnenkamm downhill race, one of the most famous and most treacherous ski races on the World Cup circuit. As a major tourism destination, Kitzbühel draws people from all over the world who want to experience the mountain first-hand. The valuable tourism dollars fuel a vast economic engine for the surrounding region.
Sadly, the resort is dying a slow death. Within two decades, there won’t be enough snow to support skiing on the legendary slopes. That’s the finding of a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the first study to assess the economic impact of global warming on European leisure.
Kitzbühel is by no means alone. The global tourism industry is arguably one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change. In the Alps, for instance, ski resorts below 1,050 metres — such as the famous Kitzbühel — will no longer be viable within 20 years, according to the OECD. Glaciers will all but disappear within 45 years and all but the highest ski resorts will close.
The economic implications alone will be severe. The annual cost to Switzerland’s winter tourism industry, for instance, is projected to be $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion US by the year 2050. Other countries are expected to fare worse.
Ironically, tourism is not just a victim of climate change but a sizable source of the problem. In terms of CO2 emissions, tourism’s contribution to global climate change is about five per cent, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. If tourism were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter worldwide, ahead of Germany (sixth) and Canada (seventh).
By far, the biggest portion of tourism’s CO2 emissions is associated with travel. About three-quarters of the industry’s emissions are generated from visitor travel to and from the destination, UNWTO says. Air travel in particular accounts for 40 per cent of tourism’s contribution of CO2 and is the dominant source of emissions for medium- and long-haul travel.
Here lies the rub. Travel is a fundamental prerequisite of tourism — you can’t bring the beach to you, after all…