Relationship between tourism demand in the Swiss Alps and hot summer air temperatures associated with climate change
We quantified the impacts of hot summer air temperatures on tourism in the Swiss Alps by analysing the relationship between temperature and overnight stays in 40 Alpine resorts. Several temperature thresholds were tested to detect the relationship between them and summer tourism. Our results reveal significant correlations between the number of nights spent in mountain resorts and hot temperatures at lower elevations. The relationship between hot temperatures and overnight stays is more important in June and to a lesser extent in August than in July. This is probably because holidays and the peak of domestic tourist demand in summer usually take place between the beginning of July and mid-August so that long-term planned stays dominate more during these months compared to June. The alpine resorts nearest to cities are most affected by hot temperatures. This is probably because reactions to hot episodes take place on a short-term basis as heat waves remain relatively rare. Our results suggest that alpine tourist resorts could benefit from hotter temperatures at lower elevations under future climates. Tourists already react on a short-term basis to hot days and spend more nights in hotels in mountain resorts. If heat waves become more regular, it seems likely that tourists will choose to stay at alpine resorts more frequently and for longer periods.