Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Climate change threat to Australia’s snow industry

Climate change threat to Australia’s snow industry
June 7, 2014

As Australia prepares to welcome the 2014 snow season, analysis of Government reports suggest that climate change could cut Australia's ski season by more than two months, reducing snow depths by 80 centimetres by 2050.

With Australia’s snow industry being worth $1.8 billion and employing 18,000 people such changes could have a dramatic impact on the alpine regions of south eastern Austalia.

In 2003, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) released a report called The Impact of Climate Change on Snow Conditions in Mainland Australia.

In 2012, an update was written for Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries – although the Victorian Government declined to release it.

However, the ABC’s Bush Telegraph obtained a copy of the update, Climate change impacts on snow in Victoria through Freedom of Information.

The report predicts that by 2050 the maximum snow depth could decrease by up to 80 centimetres and the ski season might shorten by up to 10 weeks.

Dr Jonas Bhend from the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research was one of the authors of the report.

Dr Bhend told the ABC “the maximum snow depth [could] decrease by around 50% by 2050 in the higher elevation sites. Although in the lower elevation sites by 2050, the strongest emission scenario suggests the snow might be gone by then.

“The worst scenario is in 2020 the reduction is 30 to 40% for the higher sites and by 2050 it's 70 to 80%.”

The latest report, coming 10 years after the original study, offers some valuable insights into the accuracy of earlier work.

Dr Bhend added “we can actually compare the observed changes with the projected changes and we find there is a very good correspondence between the projected decrease in snow and the actual rate of observed decrease in the past decade.”

The 2003 CSIRO report predicted the amount of snow machines would need to increase by 100% by 2020 in order to keep the industry profitable.

Australia Ski Areas Association Chief Executive Colin Hackworth told the ABC that the increase in snow making had eventuated, stating “in the last 10 years, snow making capability has doubled.

"It's something which guarantees people a holiday. 80% of skiers tend to stick to the beginner and intermediate slopes and it's these slopes which will continue to be snow made."

University of Canberra Associate Professor at the Centre for Tourism Research, Dr Tracey Dickson is studying the viability of alpine resorts and she says the stigma associated with snow making is now gone.

Dr Dickson explains “15 years ago you'd never see a resort talk about their snow making capabilities, it was an embarrassment. Now it's seen as a point of differentiation and a comparative advantage.”

However, Dr Jonas Bhend thinks the reliance on snow making is a short term fix at best, adding “if we are on a high emissions trajectory out to 2050 then even snow making is probably not going to cut the deal.”

Cheap airfares and a strong Australian dollar have lead many people to consider overseas destinations for their next ski holiday, countries like New Zealand and Japan where snow cover is more reliable.

Hackworth is worried that regular reports predicting shorter seasons and less snow will drive the ski dollar offshore, stating “it is a very real risk and I think the Australian resorts need to band together and push back.

“This is something which is going to take a genuine partnership between governments and private industry.

“The snow industry in Australia is worth $1.8 billion and employs 18,000 people. This is economic value and jobs that are not in capital cities but in regional Australia.

“The Snowy Mountains shire relies on the snow industry for 52% of its employment. If the industry and government sits idly by then you will see investment and jobs leak overseas.”

Hackworth doesn't see that Australia’s alpine resorts can attract enough year-round tourists to make up for the shorter snow seasons.

He adds “whether it's bushwalking, horse riding or cycling the reality is these are of relatively low yield and this means there won't be a lot of investment put into these activities.”

But Dr Tracey Dickson disagrees and thinks that Australia’s snow industry can learn from places where the off-season is as long as the dometic ski season.

Dr Dickson concludes “when you look at Canadian resorts with their mountain bike season they're particularly short. They have about a two month mountain biking season and they have some fantastic mountain biking opportunities.

“Whereas in Australia we have the reverse. We have a huge potential for growing something like mountain biking for six months of the year.”

Click here to view the full ABC Bush Telegraph report.

18th February 2014 - CLIMATE CHANGE TO IMPACT SKI RESORTS

16th January 2014 - CLIMATE COUNCIL: AUSTRALIAN HEATWAVES MORE FREQUENT, HOTTER AND LONGER

26th November 2013 - GLOBAL SPA STANDARD RELEASED

4th September 2013 - TOURISM MUST PAY ITS DUES TO THE ENVIRONMENT

30th May 2012 - EARLY SNOW TO MARK RESURGENCE OF AUSTRALIA’S SKI RESORTS?


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Envibe

With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology

 
 

Felton Industries

Felton Industries is Australia’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of quality outdoor furniture and has been supplying premium seating solutions for all sporting, commercial, community…

read more

Parks / Play / Recreation / Sport / Venues

 
 

IEDM

iEDM integrate Design, Engineering and Delivery Management services to convert existing spaces into exciting new entertainment venues. Our team consists of highly qualified professionals with diverse…

read more

Consultants / Design

 
 

Clubware

Clubware’s online gym software is not your run of the mill management system. It has been carefully designed to incorporate all the elements that a fitness club would need. How did we do that?…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Recreation

 
 

HIDROPLAY

Hidroplay welcomes you to the exciting world of children's Playscapes, waterslide's and Water Attractions. Appealing to families, Hidroplay increases patronage in your facility during those…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Recreation

 
 

Altitude Training Systems

ATS are global leaders in altitude training and research. From mask systems and inflatable tents to simulated altitude facilities, we help all athletes gain the competitive edge. Our…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology

 
 

SWIMPLEX AQUATICS

Swimplex Aquatics are a world-class company dedicated to the commercial pool, waterslide industry. We are Australian market leaders servicing all states Australia wide. Swimplex provide a full…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Design / Play / Waterparks

 
 

Perfect Gym

Perfect Gym Solutions is a software as a service (SaaS) solution purpose-built to service the fitness industry, with over 1000 clients servicing over 2 million gym members across 40 countries making…

read more

Access / Fitness / Marketing / Recreation / Technology

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business