US Winter Tourism Lost $1 Billion and 27,000 Jobs to Climate Change

Warmer temperatures impact on snowfall patterns, drive tourists away

The US Natural Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters (i.e. a non-profit organization) have recently released a new report stating that, as a result of climate change, the country's winter tourism lost roughly $1 billion (€0.77 billion) and 27,000 jobs between the years 1999-2010.

As the report explains, these losses were first and foremost a result of diminished snowfall patterns, whose underlying cause is an increase in average winter temperatures.

Because of these diminished snowfall patterns, ski resorts and other similar facilities were forced to either open late, or close early. On various occasions, they were faced with both these issues.

“In the many US states that rely on winter tourism, snow is currency and climate change is expected to contribute to warmer winters, reduced snowfall, and shorter snow seasons. This spells economic devastation for a winter sports industry deeply dependent upon predictable, heavy snowfall,” the report reads.

As well as this, “Even with snowmaking capabilities, many resorts suffer from 'backyard syndrome,' namely the fact that urban skiers will not get out on the slopes unless they see snow in their own backyards. Furthermore, nighttime temperatures must be cold enough to allow for snowmaking.”

Environmental Leader explains that, starting November 1999 and until April 2010, the total number of skier visits across the US decreased by roughly 15 million. The American states hit the hardest were Wisconsin (-36%), Oregon (-31%), New Mexico (-30%), Arizona (-29%) and Washington (-28%).

Given the fact that roughly 212,000 jobs across the US are either directly or indirectly linked to the winter sports industry (lodging, restaurants, gas stations, bars etc.), this comes as troubling news indeed.

“The damage to the environment goes hand in hand with damage to local economies and individual businesses. (...) We must safeguard our winters and with them, a way of life for thousands of communities, a global winter sports industry, and local business across the United States,” the report concludes.

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