Climate Change and Tourism in Switzerland : Impacts, Vulnerability and Possible Adaptation Measures
Climate change is a global phenomenon, but its effects occur on a local scale. An example is provided by tourism. Tourism is closely interlinked with climate change both as culprit and as victim. On the one hand, it is responsible for a large portion of GHG emissions from leisure-related transport and high energy consumption in the accommodation and activity sectors. On the other hand, sea level rise, snow pack reduction, glaciers melting, increase of frequency of natural hazards, among other negative impacts, both modify tourism flow and damage infrastructures. This will lead to many regions and nations to become more vulnerable and fragile. One of the concerned regions is the Alpine chain and its villages. The Alpine region is highly affected by climate change (snow pack reduction, glaciers and permafrost melting, increase in flood, landslides, and rock falls events). Because this region is highly dependant on the tourism sector for its subsistence and that the tourism sector is highly dependant on climate conditions and on the frequency of natural hazards, it is essential to reduce vulnerability and starting implementing adaptation measures. In order to do so, it is important to define which areas face which problems and to recognize vulnerability hot spots. This motivation comes from the prospect that the greatest environmental, social and economic damages are likely to be concentrated in vulnerable areas. This article presents an overview of the stand of the knowledge on the impacts, the vulnerability and the possible adaptation measures of the tourism sector in relation to climate change. It also presents a methodology which will allow assessing this vulnerability, referring in particular to the Swiss situation. The methodology consists in the conception of a vulnerability map, in which the exposure, the sensitivity and the adaptive capacity of the different tourism regions are depicted. For these three dimensions of vulnerability considered, indicators have been chosen, and will – in a second time – be weighted and combined. The map created in the frame of this study will eventually allow assessing where it is more important to start implementing adaptation measures. In addition, it will permit to assess if there are similarities between different areas and therefore where the implementation of collaboration and information sharing could be enhanced. Moreover, results will indicate who could benefit from climate change (from example, tourism could profit in some part of the Alps from the relative coolness and freshness in the hotter months of the year). The subject of this work is of particular relevance due to the vulnerability of the sector in regard to climate change, to the importance of tourism for the Swiss economy, to the lack of studies on the subject on a national and regional level, and in a broad context due to the urgent need for more detailed assessments of adaptation costs.