Swiss scientists have warned that skiing and other winter sports will no longer be practised in the Alps within the next 30 years due to global warming.
The shocking prediction was made by Avenir Suisse, a free-market liberal think tank focused on Switzerland’s future in political, economical and social areas.
The Swiss Tourism Board had asked the think tank to draw up an analysis of how winter holidays in Switzerland will be in the next 20 to 30 years.
According to Avenir Suisse, climate change could set in motion a downward spiral which could even result in winter sports disappearing from the country altogether as winters are becoming warmer and drier.
The think tank said that data shows a clear trend of a rising snow line and the snow season getting increasingly shorter each year.
Compared to 1970, the snow season now starts on average twelve days later and ends 25 days earlier. According to the think tank, this development is likely to intensify significantly in the coming decades.
Other risk factors for Swiss winter sport tourism are digitalisation which is decreasing prices globally and thus making Switzerland relatively uncompetitive, as well as the ageing of society which reduces the potential customer pool for winter sports and mountaineering holidays.
Avenir Suisse drew up different scenarios for the future of Swiss winter sports.
While in the worst-case scenario the country would see classic winter sports dying out completely due to climate change, the relatively better scenarios see a massive decline in winter sport participation, with only the higher altitude resorts in the canton of Valais surviving.
The study’s author Daniel Mueller-Jentsch said: “We should prepare for negative scenarios.”
Mueller-Jentsch makes a comparison with the banking industry as he explains that a similar domino effect can take down multiple players.
The Swiss expert explained that if on a regional level a large cable car operator or resort goes bust, other companies in the town would likely follow suit.
Juerg Stettler of the Institute for Tourism Economics at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences also issued a warning and said that winter sports could end up in an inevitable downward spiral due to global warming.
Stettler said: “Skiing disappears as a popular sport and becomes a premium product for a few.”
He stated that “the decline has long since begun” as not only has the snow started to disappear but also the tourists.
Stettler said that compared to 2007/2008, Swiss mountain destinations registered 1.3 million fewer overnight stays during the last winter season, a decline of around 15 percent.