Climate change is affecting the European Ski season due to lack of snow that poses a growing risk for tourism based on winter sports. Ski resorts mostly earn their profits during the winter season when there is snow everywhere and people visit the resort to enjoy winter sports.
So ski resorts are finding ways to adapt to the climate change effects on winter sports tourism now. Anton Bodner, the CEO of Bergbahn AG Kitzbuhel who operates 57 lifts in the small ski resort town in Austria says that he was relieved when it heavily snowed in Kitzbuhel.
He says, “This has taken a lot of pressure off. This year, nature gifted us this good start to the season. One which we haven’t had for a long time,” talking about the heavy snow at the start of the ski season. Bodner’s lifts transport around 1.5 million tourists each ski season around this small ski town in Austria.
Despite heavy snow in Kitzbuhel in the beginning of the ski season, climate change effects can be clearly seen in the Alps. Climate change has led to rising temperatures in the Alps causing glaciers to melt leading to less snow which makes ski tourism business incredible risky.
Taking example of Kitzbuhel where the legendary Hahnenkamm ski race took place in January 2023. The Streif which is a challenging ski run in this race took place on artificial snow due to low snow fall in the region only brown meadows can be seen in place of snowy strips.
Bodner said, “Of course we are aware of climate developments and it would be crazy not to be,” taking about the future of ski resorts in Kitzbuhel. He makes an assumption that although the region will see snowline dip 200 meters below the mountain level by 2050, ski tourism in the region will still be going on for decades due to the creation of artificial snow.
Robert Steiger, who works as an associate professor at the University of Innsbruck in the public finance department for years has been studying the climate change effects on the industry. Steiger offers a pessimistic scenario for ski resorts in the Alps region where 80% ski resorts will be in function in 2050 but most will have to use artificial snow.
The downside of this is that an increase of 100% in water usage will be seen to make the artificial snow. He adds further, “Some ski resorts will still be operational at the end of the century. For others, however, it will already be difficult in 20 years.”