Nature-based tourism is the fastest growing sector where the natural setting is the most critical in determining quality tourism product. Hence when climate change affects the natural setting of the mountains like the loss of glaciers, diminishing flora and fauna and forest landscapes, not only does the quality of tourism product become deteriorated, it affects the local economy as well. Popular parks in Canada and North America are located in the mountainous regions and tourism is at its peak in the summer months. It is interesting to note that summer tourist season would increase dramatically due to global warming.
As temperature rises in these areas visitation would increase especially in areas like the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). This would, in turn, lead to an increase of 6-10% in economic output and 7-13% increase in local jobs. Global warming and increase in temperatures in these areas would cause species reorganization and impact the biodiversity. At the same time-frequency of avalanche would increase which would pose higher risks to those involved in recreation like skiing, snowmobiling, and mountaineering. Change in climate is expected to affect recreation in three ways.
Summers would be longer and winters shorter which would affect the availability of longer recreational periods. Changes in climate may affect the overall comfort and enjoyment of outdoor activities. The ecological system of the area is altered which ultimately impacts the recreation experience. A contingent behavior analysis under hypothetical conditions was done to determine the impact of climate change in visitation to RMNP. The results revealed that certain areas of tourism would gain while others would be adversely affected. While skiing, camping, and wildlife would reduce, fishing and boating would increase along with beach and golf tourism.
Overall the climate change would lead to positive impact on visitation levels as the summer season would be prolonged.
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