Today Queenstown’s tourism industry will hear from Lincoln University researchers on the subject of what impact climate change could have on their livelihoods and ultimately the region itself.
The major changes predicted will be warmer temperatures, increased precipitation, more wind events, and also a reduction in frost days. These have been projected and downscaled for 2040 and will be distributed in a colour coded map to tourism operators. “This form of visualisation will make it much clearer for operators about what kinds of change they can expect for the particular areas in which they operate” says Susanne Becken, Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Lincoln University.
The research findings are the result of three years’ work by Becken and her team. In a FRST (now MSI) funded project on climate change, focusing on the tourism sectors in Queenstown and neighbouring holiday destination, Wanaka, Susanne’s research has focused extensively on tourism-weather interactions and some future-orientated climate modelling.
“Queenstown and Wanaka are currently both winter and summer tourist destinations, so significant climate change won’t write off the tourism industry per se because they already benefit from a relatively diversified portfolio. The winter season, however, is largely anchored around skiing, and our snow models show that ski fields will increasingly rely on artificial snow making to ensure snow reliability. Later this century, temperatures will get so warm that the windows for snow making will become quite limited” says Becken.
“We have been working with Destination Queenstown to bring the industry together for the forum on Wednesday (24 October) to share the findings and to start the dialogue around what climate change could mean for the sector.” Considering the extensive knowledge that operators have already in terms of dealing with present-day weather events, the workshop will discuss in particular how to capitalise on this ‘coping’ to prepare for the future.
Professor Becken has also been involved with a recent study in Northland around disaster management planning for the Regional Tourism Organisation, and these findings will be presented on Thursday 25 October to civil defence and tourism representatives in Queenstown.
“Although the topics sound a little like doomsday, the findings themselves will in fact assist the industry to anticipate change and be ‘disaster ready’ – putting them in a position of knowledge and confidence rather than having to be reactive,” adds Becken.