Will Climate Change Kill Alpine Skiing?
While Alpine skiing faces countless days of warm sun thousands of people are flying off to Davos to discuss climate change. The irony? The Alpine ski industry really needs to have this discussion sped up, as its tourism revenue hinges on these talks. Across the Alps tourism is the main source of revenue for local economies, in France’s Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region (Courchevel and Val d’Isère) tourist spending reached up to $23 billion in 2018 alone.
As glaciers are receding at unprecedented rates and temperatures climb across the world, low-lying resorts will be the first to go. Garmisch-Partenkirche—Germany’s highest mountain—was once home to the winter Olympics in 1936. Today, at 800m it is barely surviving, filling strips of piste with artificial snow. However, a silent acceptance of the tidings has swooped the areas, with summer bookings at an all-time high. For the first time ever summer bookings overtook winter bookings in Austria, Switzerland hotel bookings were 1/3rd higher in summer than in winter in 2019 whilst Garmisch-Partenkirche’s summer tourism is already generating 60% of its overall tourism intake.
Schedules are also inciting more summer activities: Gstaad and Verbier offer classical music, Davos hosts summer conferences, Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria forges tracks for summer mountain bikers while At Garmisch City Hall Meierhofer bravely accepts defeat: “Of course, we have to come up with concepts to maintain the winter tourism that we still have,” she said. “You say it’s brown—I say the hiking paths are open.”
Personally I think these ski resorts should take a page from Zermatt and be at the forefront of climate change advocates, creating an alliance to lobby for better climate change policies whilst enforcing carbon neutrality at home. Just a thought.
Article by: Isabella Cavalletti