What’s next for winter sports resorts
Can we say that skiing in France is over soon? ” It depends on where we look, what deadline, what greenhouse gas scenario we follow, and what practices we follow. Loïc GIACCONE, assistant researcher with economist Gaël Giraud of Georgetown University (USA) and originally from the Hautes-Alpes, answered the question « Outside ». ” I get the impression that recent climate model updates are showing a bit more warming than we think, at least at the level of France. I don’t know what it will look like in 2050. But what is certain is that from 2030/2050 it may become difficult for some stations at low and medium altitudes. “.
If most mountains have very expensive means of maintaining enough snow cover for skiing, global warming, the effects of which we are beginning to measure, could undermine the economic model of most winter sports resorts. . Unless they reinvent themselves and offer other activities that can attract wildlife enthusiasts, or almost more.
Admittedly, Christmas is not the best time for skiing because the snow cover is not always at the same level. But it seems that this year we have reached new heights, with some resorts, especially low and mid-mountain resorts, not being able to open or the slopes being closed to skiers. Although snow is announced for February, which is often more favorable, the very mild winter we are experiencing may well reduce the opening hours of some resorts. The value of white gold, which has fueled the fortunes of many Alpine resorts, could lose value if temperatures continue to rise.
“Continue in old economic models or dare to make real change by accepting a less profitable future to put nature back at the center of our lives.”
” What if we finally admit that the goose that laid the golden egg has run out? Is it ineffective for him to take a serious hit in the flank and cry in the mud? Outside, Coralie asks HAVAS. ” Not easy, given the billions the ski industry, supported largely by public funds, has made over the past six decades. His daily life is painful for all those who depend on him today. It’s time for changes, not laments “.
With the snow at the start of the year and what’s on the horizon with global warming, what are the solutions that will enable resorts that have covered everything in white gold? ” Persisting in old economic models with subsidies and damaging the environment, or daring to make real change to put nature back at the center of our lives and to face a less profitable future? Coralie HAVAS continues. Solutions exist, but they are persistent, nothing less certain because of an external file.
Skiing in France is a hen that lays golden eggs, which saves France 10 billion. Reason enough for some communities to persistently set up snow globes or engage in “snow farming,” i.e., artificial snow production that can be used when it doesn’t fall, or when there isn’t enough of it. Energy-intensive solutions that have a fairly disastrous carbon footprint and only work if the temperature remains low enough after all.
Others have already taken action by changing the ski area, as in the resort of Valloir between the Telegraph and Galibier passes in Maurienne. ” Skiing below 2000 meters has no future, especially for southern exposures Jean-Marie Martin, director of the Société d’Économie Mixte (SEM) in Valloir, commented. ” We leave 20% of our domain at low height to convert to height “. Therefore, the lowest slopes will be closed in favor of four others above 2,000 m. However, this operation, which still costs 8 million euros for the resort, risks being only a last resort, since some experts predict that the snow cover of our mountains will disappear by 2050 they predict it could drop to a trickle and only be on the peaks where skiing is reserved for the powder elite. In some massifs such as the Auvergne, Jura and Vosges, winter activity may disappear altogether due to the lack of regular snow.
“Let’s be clear that from the point of view of business, the “four seasons” will not bring as much as snow yet.”
There remains a four-season model that forgoes skiing for a model that doesn’t require snow cover to take advantage of the refreshing mountain air. Some stations have already tried this with more or less success.
” We plan to live a long time without skiing while asking ourselves the right questions to anticipate the moment when this activity will become less regular. “, explains Jean-Christophe HOFF, director of the La Clusaz ski lifts in Haute-Savoie. ” By attracting an active population and developing these experiences, maybe tomorrow we will choose La Clusaz because it is a place where we experience something meaningful and different. This is an asset that we have and it makes it easier for us to deal with this diversification than others. “.
Resorts such as La Clusaz rely on a protected mountain village atmosphere, with or without snow, with a tourist offer that complements skiing and mountain biking. They rely on the involvement of local actors by visiting alpine farms, Reblochon production workshops, and beekeeping fields. The place is ideal for organizing cultural festivals.
” Let’s be clear, from the point of view of business, the “four seasons” will not bring much profit yet more than snow “, researcher Loïc GIACCONE continues. But the stations have already taken into account global warming. This is the case of the Metabief resort, located in the Jura, accustomed to the whims of the weather in terms of snowfall, considered one of the pioneers in Europe in this field. The latter, with the enrichment of natural and cultural heritage, outdoor activities (mountain keeps ski lifts instead of upgrading them while developing cycling, trail running, etc. A way to limit damage for local players.
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