Implications of climate change for glacier tourism

Stewart, Emma
Wilson, J
Espiner, Stephen
Purdie, H
Lemieux, C
Dawson, J
Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::150601 Impacts of Tourism , ANZSRC::150605 Tourism Resource Appraisal , ANZSRC::160402 Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Geography , ANZSRC::050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. For more than 100 years, the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers in Westland Tai Poutini National Park have attracted thousands of tourists annually and have emerged as iconic destinations in New Zealand. However, in recent years, the recession of both glaciers has been increasingly rapid and the impacts on, and implications for, visitor experiences in these settings remain relatively unexplored. A mixed-method approach was adopted to investigate visitor experiences and stakeholder perspectives through an assessment of climate-related changes on tourism at the glaciers in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The bio-physical conditions at both the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers were reviewed in order to assess the magnitude and rate of retreat. Perceptions of climate change risk and awareness of impacts in the National Park were assessed through stakeholder interviews (n = 13) and a visitor survey (n = 500) was used to better understand how impacts at these sites have affected and may continue to affect visitor experiences. Research results were reported to local communities via a series of public talks. Results revealed the fundamental importance of viewing the glaciers as a significant travel motive of visitors, suggesting that there is a ‘last chance’ dimension to their experience. Furthermore, the results demonstrate a high adaptive capacity of local tourism operators under rapidly changing environmental conditions. The implications of altered visitor experiences for tourism operators and protected area managers are discussed in light of these findings.
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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