Tourism and recreation – Adaptation
Municipalities can use land use solutions and financial support to develop tourism services to an ecologically sustainable direction that caters for the impacts of climate change.
Weather conditions and climate direct tourism
The offset of tourism operations vary from municipality to municipality and thus the impacts of climate change on them vary to a great extent. In principle, there are two kinds of impacts:
- Direct impacts on the actual tourism operations such as recreation possibilities on offer, and
- Impacts on the scenery and animal and plant kingdom, such as amount of snow that is important for Christmas tourism and survival of the ringed seal in the Saimaa lake district.
It should be noted that the impact of weather conditions also varies by seasons; for example, a snowy winter is important during the Christmas season, but in the spring, early melting of the snow does not have a similar effect on the profitability of the tourism industry. People who are already looking forward to the summer do not long for the snow so much.
Climate and weather have a major impact on the travel experience
In practice, climate conditions and tourism have a twofold relationship: on the one hand, the local climate defines the interest for the travel site when the trip is planned, while on the other hand, during the trip, the prevailing weather defines the success of the travel experience. The weather also influences the tone in which the holiday destination is talked about to others.
It can be said that even just a few successful travel seasons with respect to weather can quickly change the perception of a travel destination in the people's eyes. Naturally, the same applies the other way around; poor weather during a holiday decrease the motivation of travelling back the next year.
Municipalities' operations create a framework for sustainable domestic travel
Tourism services that are based on outdoor activities are the most vulnerable to climate change. In the near future, this mainly applies to Southern Finland where the possibilities for outdoor winter activities will become weaker. The summer tourism season will become longer in the entire country and as hot days become more common, most people may settle for domestic travel. If the waterways are maintained clean and algae-free, the future looks good for the domestic coastal sites and municipalities dependent on summer guests. However, environmental protection poses a growing challenge for municipalities.
When considering future investments, the different time frames of investments related to construction and maintenance of tourism services must be taken into account. For example, entrepreneurs in ski resorts can operate with a time frame of approximately ten years but for municipalities, infrastructure related to tourism is a longer-term investment. Therefore, the future scenarios for tourist destinations should already be considered.