Social perceptions of climate change in Queenstown's ski industry: a framework of contextual vulnerability
The tourism industry both contributes to – and is affected by climate change. Many tourism sub-sectors rely on the local climate as a key element to their tourism offering, non less that the ski industry. As a result of this, the ski industry has been identified as particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change which could include increased extreme events, increased variability and increased average temperatures. Yet these manifestations are intrinsically localised, not only between countries, but regions and specific ski fields. Elevation, aspect, water resources and management structure are just some of the factors which play into degrees of vulnerability. This paper is empirically focused on the Queenstown Lakes region of New Zealand, as a popular tourism destination, and the home of 6 commercial ski field operations. Qualitative interviews with industry stakeholders identified a range of perceptions regarding threats and opportunities for the region. While primarily focusing on climate change, a wider web of contextual risks is identified, to place climate change amongst the other challenges for the region. This paper considers perceived risks, and barriers to engagement with climate change for tourism stakeholders. It also addresses opportunities raised by interview participants namely, the relatively increased vulnerability of neighbouring competitors and important international tourism market, Australia and the use of snowmaking to reduce the risk of weather variability. This paper finds a multitude of perceptions regarding vulnerability and concluded that considering context vulnerability, rather than the outcome of climate change alone, is vital in order to address the risks associated with climate change effectively.
Keywords: Vulnerability; risk perception; Climate change; weather variability; Ski industry; New Zealand
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)