Australian snow tourist's perceptions of climate change: Implications for the Queenstown Lakes region of New Zealand
Hopkins, Debbie; Becken, Susanne; Hendrikx, Jordy
This qualitative research has emerged from the sustained discussion of the future of winter alpine tourism in the Australasian context. The ski industries of Australia and New Zealand are intertwined, with research requiring trans-Tasman cooperation (Hendrikx, 2010). When analyses are conducted at a national scale, they fail to incorporate this complex interdependent relationship. Australians account for over 35% of skiers in New Zealand, although this figure rises to 64% for some individual ski fields (NZ ski, 2010). The increasing number of Australians choosing New Zealand for snow-based tourism has been attributed to relative financial costs, the allure of an ‘overseas’ holiday and snow reliability. These reasons are connected, and will become increasingly so, with the climate change problematic. Physical sciences in the form of climate modelling have forecast ‘significant impacts’ for Australasian skiing (IPCC, 2007, Hennessey et al, 2004, Hendrix, 2010, Hendrix & Hreinsson, 2010), with prospects for Australia particularly dire, consequently placing New Zealand in a relatively positive position. Our paper follows on, and complements the climate modelling and forecasting provided by the IPCC (2007), Hennessey et al (2004), and Hendrikx & Hreinsson (2010), using qualitative methods to gain greater understanding of the potential behavioural adaptations available to Australian snow tourists in New Zealand. The depth, nuances and complexities of tourist’s perceptions and knowledge will be sought through semi structured interviews in the Queenstown Lakes region on the South Island of New Zealand during the winter season 2011. Although physical sciences can provide understandings of biophysical vulnerabilities, they neglect the sociocultural context of vulnerability and often frame it as an outcome of specific changes. Therefore the objectives of this research are; 1. To understand the way vulnerability is framed and perceived by demand-side stakeholders, 2. Recognise the types of knowledge which inform actors about climate change vulnerability, 3. To identify the types of behavioural adaptations which are available to Australian tourists and implications these could have for New Zealand’s ski industry. This paper represents part of a wider collaborative research project addressing the vulnerability of snow-reliant industries as a result of forecast climatic changes. It will identify a range of possible behavioural adaptations for demand-side stakeholders which will have applicability beyond the Australasian context. We will discuss the socio-economic, developmental, institutional and governance implications for alpine regions, as individual ski fields within a destination will face varying degrees of vulnerability resulting from climatic and behavioural changes. Therefore the opportunities and threats posed locally to individual ski fields and nationally to the wider ski industry will be highlighted and discussed with relevance to the global ski industry. Preliminary findings will be presented including scope for further applicability and development.
Editor: Veulliet, Eric; Borsdorf, Axel; Stotter, Johann
Conference: Managing Alpine Future II, Austria
Keywords: Climate Change; New Zealand; Snow Sports; Tourism; Spatial Scale
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)