Does Climate Change Influence Guest Loyalty at Alpine Winter Destinations?
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SubjectAlpine tourism; Climate adaptation; Climate change; Destination choice; Destination loyalty; ski resorts; Winter tourism
Research has dealt extensively with different aspects of climate change and winter tourism such as the impact on ski resorts and ski lift operators, adaptation strategies, governance at destinations and reactions of winter sports guests to changing snow conditions. This paper goes deeper into the question of destination choice and examines the role of climate change among the many factors affecting guest loyalty at Alpine winter destinations. The study uses an established destination choice model with choice sets, destination image and dynamic feedback loop. A qualitative online forum identifies factors influencing winter destination choice, followed by a quantitative survey which compares Alpine winter holidaymakers categorised as “loyal”, “disloyal” and “undecided”. The results demonstrate that climate change clearly influences destination choice, but snow sports are not the only affected attractors. Enjoyment of the natural environment and value for money are just as high on the list of guest motivators. This indicates that climate change adaptation measures such as snowmaking can be counterproductive to guest loyalty because they spoil the natural scenery and raise prices. The paper concludes with a recommendation for winter destinations to prioritize conservation of the natural environment and integrate more environmental protection measures into their management strategies.
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