Steiger, R., & Abegg, B. (2018): Ski areas‘ competitiveness in the light of climate change: comparative analysis in the Eastern Alps. In: Müller, D.K. & Więckowski, M. (eds.): Tourism in Transition – Recovering Decline, Managing Change. Cham: Springer: 187–199.
Abegg, B., Steiger, R. & Trawöger, L. (2017): Resilience and Perceptions of Problems in Alpine Regions. In: Butler, R.W. (ed.): Tourism and Resilience. Wallingford: CABI Publications: 105–117.
There is a considerable gap in the perception of the urgency to act and adapt to climatic changes between science and the tourism industry. Summarizing the reasons for and the possibilities to overcome this gap, several research needs can be identified. First of all, science needs to base the impact assessment on indicators and timeframes the industry is willing and able to work with. Potential impacts of extreme winter seasons and the managerial and behavioural options to adapt to extreme situations are worth being investigated. More detailed knowledge on potential behavioural adaptation of tourists is also required, as this component of the tourism system has the highest capacity to adapt and adaptation can be made immediately, for example by temporal, spatial or activity substitution. The integration of supply- and demand-side reactions and options is vital for understanding the sensitivity and adaptive capacity of tourism destinations to a changing climate. More emphasis should be placed on the social aspects of climate change adaptation. Tourism businesses (e.g. ski-area operators) are part of larger tourism systems, and these systems, again, are part of communities/regions. A series of actors is involved, and very little is known how these actors – within the tourism system and beyond – interact. Wyss (2013), for example, argues that adaptation in a mountain tourism context can only be understood (and planned) when both the action potential of the individual actors (e.g. adaptive capacity) and the structural components of the system (e.g. cooperation, networks, power relations, etc.) are taken into account.
Climate is only one driver of change, and it is time to move beyond adapting to climate change and to embed adaptation in responses to multiple stresses. Combining climate change adaptation with hazard research, sustainability science, and community and regional resilience offers interesting perspectives. Disaster risk reduction, for example, has a long tradition in mountain environments; it has developed its own set of tools to assess vulnerability and deal with risks, many of these tools being widely accepted in the respective communities and regions (see Kaján and Saarinen, 2013). The notion of resilience and its application to climate change-related studies in tourism, on the other hand, are still relatively new (Lew, 2014). A specific resilience-based perspective on how local/regional winter tourism systems can deal with external disturbances (including climate change) is only beginning to emerge but offers a promising way to cope with complex change processes (Luthe and Wyss, 2014, 2016) – and the suggestions made in this chapter to bridge the science–industry gap, in particular a system-based approach that looks at different disturbances and different scales, is fully in line with current resilience thinking.