New Zealand’s ski industry could benefit from climate change in the short term but would suffer from its long term effects, according to a new report.
Tourism at Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers would also be at risk as glaciers further receded due to warming temperatures putting livelihoods in jeopardy.
The government’s Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group’s Stocktake Report released on Friday says the tourism industry is dependent on the country’s natural resources and “the ability to function within the current climate range”.
It was therefore exposed to the direct impacts of climate change outside of its ability to adapt and could be affected by changing tourist behaviour.
“The ski industry is one of the most climate dependent tourism subsectors, and as such more information is available regarding the impacts of climate change on this subsector than on others,” said the report.
“While it is hard to predict future tourist behaviour in the short term, climate change may bring benefits for ski tourism due to less snow in Australia. However, in the long term, higher temperatures and fewer snow days will negatively impact the industry, particularly those in lower elevation sites.”
As glaciers such as Fox and Franz Josef further receded due to warming temperatures, businesses would be put at risk, said the report.
“This will impact regional economies, and individuals and communities with livelihoods dependent on the industry.”
The report said the sensitivity of tourism to climate change impacts depended on a range of factors including:
- how tourists respond to certain climatic conditions
- how important weather and weather-related natural hazards are to tourism businesses in terms of carrying out specific activities
- how infrastructure or wider natural resources relevant to the operation of tourism businesses might be affected by climatic events.
The report stated that much of the research on the impacts of climate change on tourist behaviour related to the effect of climate change mitigation policies, which was beyond its scope.
However, it found New Zealand had been slow in developing adaptation planning and identified gaps that needed to will need to be filled if the country was to successfully adapt to climate change.
An accompanying report, The Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance 2017, noted key infrastructure across the country including five regional airports, 46km of railway and 1,121km of roads were exposed to risk of sea level rise.
Around 68,170 buildings, including 43,680 houses, with a replacement cost of $19bn were also at risk.