TOU-I-5: Bed nights in ski resorts

The picture shows two female mountaineers from behind, walking with poles across a partially snow-covered mountain meadow. Click to enlarge
When snow cover is low, winter hiking can provide an enjoyable alternative to skiing.
Source: Photograph: © Konstanze Schönthaler / Bosch & Partner GmbH

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents

 

TOU-I-5: Bed nights in ski resorts

Overall, the development of bed night figures varies strongly in different skiing regions. In mild and snow-poor winters such as 2006 / 2007 and 2013 / 2014 accommodation services reported losses in all winter sports regions. In view of the relatively short time series available for Skier Days, i.e. first-time use of cable cars in skiing areas, there are no development trends discernible so far.

The indexed number of overnight stays in winter sports resorts in the winter half-year is shown by lines. The values are set to 100 for the winter of 1991/92. The time series extends to 2017/2018. For the Black Forest and the Alps there is a quadratically increasing trend, for the eastern and the western and central low mountain ranges there is no trend. The Skier Days, which are shown from 2010/11 to 2017/18, also show no trend.
TOU-I-5: Bed nights in ski resorts

The indexed number of overnight stays in winter sports resorts in the winter half-year is shown by lines. The values are set to 100 for the winter of 1991/92. The time series extends to 2017/2018. For the Black Forest and the Alps there is a quadratically increasing trend, for the eastern and the western and central low mountain ranges there is no trend. The Skier Days, which are shown from 2010/11 to 2017/18, also show no trend.

Source: Statistical offices of federal states (monthly survey in tourism); Verband Deutscher Seilbahnen e.V. (Skier Days)
 

How fares winter tourism?

In 2018, Austria, Spain, Southeast Asia, Bavaria and Italy were the most popular winter tourism destinations with German travellers. While many people travel south, for other travellers winter means snow. They either want to enjoy snow-related sports activities or they treasure snowy landscapes and the associated atmosphere.

This is why, in view of climate change, the prognoses for winter tourism in Germany are not promising. Important destinations for winter tourism and skiing areas in the German Alps are predominantly at altitudes between approx. 800 and 1,700 m above sea level, i.e. distinctly lower than alpine destinations in Switzerland, Italy, France and parts of Austria. Already today, projection outcomes demonstrate that snow guarantees in the German Alps are decreasing; this situation can only be aggravated as warming continues to increase. In the other alpine countries – except for some of the federal states of Austria – a distinct decline in areas with guaranteed snow cover is not expected until and unless temperatures rise by more than 2 °C.75

Particularly snow-poor winters as latterly in 2013 / 2014 mean that in many places winter sports are subject to some restrictions. Apart from other factors such as greater choice of ski slopes – or owing to some wider and longer descents due to other topographical conditions near an alpine ridge – this is the reason why other alpine countries are perceived as more attractive for winter holidays including multi-day vacations offering skiing and other forms of winter activities.76 This competition from skiing areas with more prospects of snow and more attractive ski resorts in neighbouring alpine countries is presumably also part of the reason why the tourism boom of Germany’s post-unification period did not last despite having been so promising in terms of the record number of bed nights recorded in winter 1991 / 1992. From the mid-1990s onwards, the number of overnight stays in winter sports municipalities in German alpine areas went into a decline and stagnated at a lower level until 2014. These figures are now gradually increasing again.

Difficult times for winter tourism are also on the cards for Germany’s uplands. Modelling has shown a decline in the number of days with snow depths of at least 30 centimetres in the uplands in view of climate change well into the middle of the 21st century. At higher altitude in the Alps, this decline is not expected to be as pronounced because depending on the geographical situation and the altitude, snow cover can even be deeper in some regions. However, in the long terms distinct restrictions are to be expected.

Individual, particularly snow-poor years an mild winters had a negative impact on bed-night figures in the past. So far, the mildest winter in Germany took place in 2006 / 2007, at an average temperature of 4.4 °C. Compared to previous years, in that year all winter sports regions recorded declining bed night figures; this was particularly pronounced in the Bayerische Wald, in the Fichtel Mountains and in the Rhön uplands. The winter of 2013 / 2014 when bed night figures were relatively low throughout, was comparatively snow-poor as well.

If winter tourists have negative experiences more frequently in German winter sports regions, they will in future at least to some extent change their holiday activities or holiday destinations. In the representative population survey ‘Environmental Awareness in Germany’ (Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland).I at least a quarter of respondents stated in 2012 that they would adapt their winter sports activities if required by climatic conditions. In the subsequent surveys conducted in 2014 and 2016 this proportion amounted to 17 % respectively. It is therefore conceivable that German winter tourists might in future favour destinations for winter holidays in neighbouring European countries – more so than before.

For local winter sports regions this might mean that their importance to people looking for local recreation activities and for day tourism will continue to increase. The German alpine area and the uplands are both popular destinations for day tourism in the winter months. They are particularly attractive to people who live in greater conurbations nearby. Winter tourism is an important economic factor. If snow conditions in individual years – such as the long winter of 2012 / 2013 – are good, winter sports offerings are readily taken up by day tourists, as demonstrated by the high number of first-time users of ski lift facilities in skiing areas (skier days). However, in order to be well-equipped for mild and snow-poor winters such as 2013 / 2014, tourism regions would be well advised to develop more and more alternative offerings that depend very little or not at all on snow cover.

75 see endnote no. 72.
76 Bausch T. 2010: Wintertourismus und Großveranstaltungen. Hintergrundinformationen und Überlegungen zur weiteren Diskussion. Unveröffentlichte Präsentation, zit. nach: Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt (Hrsg.)
2010: Perspektiven naturverträglicher Sport- und Erholungsnutzung im bayerischen Alpenraum. Augsburg, 123 pp.
I - The representative population survey (of German-speaking residents aged 14 or more years) entitled Environmental Awareness and Behaviour in Germany (Umweltbewusstsein und -verhalten in Deutschland) has been carried out every two years since 2000 on behalf of the BMU and the UBA. Since 2012, questions have been asked in the survey, intended to supply data for DAS monitoring indicators; from 2016 onwards, these questions are asked every four years in the environmental awareness surveys.

 

Interfaces

TOU-I-6: Seasonal bed nights in German tourist areas

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 adaptation to climate change  KomPass  monitoring report  winter sports resort  overnight stay  ski regions  overnight stay figures