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Implications Of Climate And Environmental Change For Nature-based Tourism In The Canadian Rocky Mountains: A Case Study Of Waterton Lakes National Park

D. Scott, Brenda Jones, Jasmina Konopek
Published 2007 · Geography

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Abstract In western North America, Rocky Mountain national parks represent a major resource for nature-based tourism. This paper examines how climate change may influence park tourism in the Rocky Mountain region by focusing on both the direct and indirect impacts of climate change for visitation to Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP) (Alberta, Canada). A statistical model of monthly visitation and climate was developed to examine the direct impact of climate change on visitation. The model projected that annual visitation would increase between 6% and 10% in the 2020s and between 10% and 36% in the 2050s. To explore how climate-induced environmental change could also indirectly affect visitation, a visitor survey was used ( N = 425 ). The environmental change scenarios for the 2020s and 2050s were found to have minimal influence on visitation, however the environmental change scenario for the 2080s (under the warmest climate change conditions) was found to have a negative effect on visitation, as 19% of respondents indicated they would not visit the park and 37% stated they would visit the park less often. The contrasting result of the two analyses for the longer-term impact of climate change was a key finding. The management implications of these findings and methodological challenges associate with climate change impact assessment for tourism are also discussed.
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