Climate change affects the supply of nature-based tourism opportunities as well as the demand visitors place on those opportunities. Climate-induced changes in visitor demand, specifically climate-related coping behaviors (e.g., seeking safer recreation sites, changing trip timing, using weather forecasts to plan trips), are influenced by multiple factors such as season of visit, specific visitor attributes, and general climate change beliefs and concern. Understanding the relationships between visitor characteristics and coping behaviors within the context of a changing climate will help recreation managers and tourism providers anticipate shifts in demand and adapt strategically. In this study, we present results from a series of binary logistic regression models of summer and winter visitor survey data to examine climate-related coping behaviors within a regional nature-based tourism area (the North Shore region of Lake Superior in Minnesota). Findings reveal that winter recreationists, younger visitors, and visitors who are concerned about climate change, are most inclined to use behavioral coping in response to changing climate and environmental conditions. Specifically, we found that winter season recreationists are much more likely to report having experienced a past climate-related impact, and that weather information, alternative gear, and flexibility in timing their trips are important in overcoming these constraints. Further, younger visitors were more likely to use informational (weather forecast) coping, site substitution, and activity substitution to respond to climate-related impacts. This study expands upon climate-related recreation and tourism research by documenting how recreationists’ informational, spatial, and temporal coping behaviors vary across visitor characteristics. Further research is needed to determine if the behavioral coping preferences and patterns found in this study emerge across diverse contexts. However, our findings here can help managers begin to strategically plan and collaborate to maintain destination-level attractiveness to visitors despite changing environmental conditions. Management implications: Understanding how visitors respond to environmental changes is important in sustaining ‘weather-resistant’ visitor flows. In anticipation of on-site disruptions and future demand shifts, regional partnerships within nature-based destinations may mitigate reductions in visitor demand and accommodate shifting patterns in visitor flows. For example, recreation managers and tourism providers could identify and jointly market alternative recreation opportunities when conditions are not conducive to participating in desired activities, as well as develop a networked approach for communicating weather and site safety information.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was prepared by E. Seekamp, J. W. Smith, and M. Davenport using federal funds under award NA14OAR4170080 from Minnesota Sea Grant, National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA, the Sea Grant College Program, or the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Climate change
- Climate change beliefs
- Outdoor recreation