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Trends in winter sport tourism: challenges for the future

Wiebke Unbehaun (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Institute for Transport Studies, Vienna, Austria)
Ulrike Pröbstl (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Institute for Transport Studies, Vienna, Austria)
Wolfgang Haider (School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University Vancouver, Burnaby, Canada)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to survey climate change impacts on winter sport tourists' activity and destination choice, to estimate shifts in customer demand and to provide recommendations and decision support for destination management.


A total of 540 skiers from Vienna, Austria were surveyed with a standardized online questionnaire. The survey also contained a discrete choice experiment a stated preference method which forces respondents into trade‐off behavior between various possible combinations of destination profiles.


The results show a strong preference for destination attributes promising sufficient (natural) snow conditions. In winters that lack snow, resorts in high destinations gain importance and travel distances lose some relevance. A large proportion of skiers would forgo skiing if it becomes more expensive. Snow independent substitutes are accepted as a short time compensation but not for the whole winter holiday. When asked to trade off additional costs and additional travel distances for a snow secure destination, the majority of winter sport tourists are willing to incur some additional cost but the majority reach thresholds at about 10 percent additional cost and 2h additional driving.


The survey shows, that a discrete choice experiment is a suitable method to cover the complexity of activity and destination choice. Therefore it is an unique individual‐oriented approach to consider customer demand and to evaluate the success of offer setting in tourism management. The sequential presentation of three related choice sets is a novel contribution in the field of choice experiments, and appears to be well suited to simulate climate change‐related effects.



Unbehaun, W., Pröbstl, U. and Haider, W. (2008), "Trends in winter sport tourism: challenges for the future", Tourism Review, Vol. 63 No. 1, pp. 36-47.



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