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The impact of snow scarcity on ski tourism: an analysis of the record warm season 2006/2007 in Tyrol (Austria)

Robert Steiger (Member of the Project Staff at the Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the sensitivity of ski businesses and of the accommodation sector in Tyrol to warm winter seasons and to draw conclusions for climate change vulnerability.


Operational indicators of ski areas and overnight stays in the destinations were analysed in the record warm winter season 2006/2007. Comparing the climatic anomalies of that season with climate change scenarios, the season can serve as an analogue year for average future winter seasons. By interpreting changes in the analogue year, the potential vulnerability of the winter tourism industry in the study area can be assessed.


While the impact on ski areas was relatively small on the province level, the analysis on the basis of individual businesses showed a high sensitivity of small to medium and low‐altitude ski areas as well as of ski areas with insufficient snowmaking facilities. Significant differences in the impact on the accommodation sector were found on the district level, with longer‐lasting negative effects on the regional tourism economy in two districts with low‐altitude ski areas. Climate change increases the risk of financial losses for individual ski businesses as well as for tourism‐dependent regional economies, as happened in the 2006/2007 season. As the season represents an extreme event, the long‐term effect of a rising frequency of warm winters on demand cannot be assessed.


The paper presents a valuable and inexpensive approach to assess the impact of warm winter seasons on the supply side as well as on the demand side.



Steiger, R. (2011), "The impact of snow scarcity on ski tourism: an analysis of the record warm season 2006/2007 in Tyrol (Austria)", Tourism Review, Vol. 66 No. 3, pp. 4-13.



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