Sustainable Ski Resorts - Adapt or Close

Authors: Daniel Moscovici*, Stockton University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Mountain Environments, Recreational and Sport Geography
Keywords: Skiing, Tourism, Sustainability, Climate Change, Adaptation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 28
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The ski industry has changed and shifted since the construction booms of the 1960s and 1970s. The ski resort brings visitors to rural or remote mountain regions providing an influx to rural regional economies. However, the growth of the resorts can negatively impact the local environment. New environmental regulations have many ski resorts struggling to remain competitive. Resorts now need to manage waste, water, wildlife, soil, and mitigate impacts from climate change. Climate variability, increased customer demand for perfect conditions regardless of weather, and the need for water and energy for man-made snow forces many resorts to close down, consolidate into corporations, or diversify their business.

Our hypothesis is that ski resorts will need to adapt or close down in the face of environmental regulations, climate change, and consumer expectations. This research evaluates the literature with respect to environmental impacts and sustainability of ski resorts and further identifies, quantifies, and maps the resorts that have closed in the United States since the ski resort boom of the 60s and 70s. As part of the discussion this paper analyzes some of the more unique models for remaining open and competitive. These practices include: resort consolidation, multi-mountain passes, and/or unique ownership models. We believe that ski resorts need to take the environment, sustainability and climate change adaptation seriously in order to remain economically viable and remain competitive in the coming decades.

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