Does artificial snow production pay under future climate conditions? – A case study for a vulnerable ski area in Austria
Tourism Management 43, 8-21 , 2/2014
The prospects of increasing temperatures, a growing frequency of snow scarce winter seasons and rising energy prices raise questions about the future profitability of snowmaking. Therefore, we carry out a cost-revenue analysis of snowmaking based on projected daily snowmaking hours and visitor numbers until 2050 for a case study site in Austria. The results show that ski area operators are at risk of facing a substantial increase in total energy costs due to expected rising electricity costs, although the total amount of snowmaking hours is projected to slightly decrease because of shrinking feasible time for snowmaking (considering current snowmaking infrastructure). In the long run ski visitor numbers are projected to decline due to decreasing overall snow depths. Overall, the profitability analysis of skiing operations reveals that price increases in ski lift tickets, slightly higher than observed in the recent past, will be inevitable in order to keep skiing operations profitable in future.
Keywords: ski tourism, snowmaking, profitability calculation, climate change