Exploring the potential impacts of climate change on North America's Laurentian Great Lakes tourism sector

Natalie Chin, Purdue University


Climate change is one of the major challenges facing the global hospitality and tourism sector in the coming century and, given the important role that weather and climate play in all aspects of the tourism experience, tourism businesses owners need to start thinking about and enacting climate change adaptation strategies now. This work has utilized a combination of social science and physical science methods to (1) understand how the Great Lakes tourism sector could be impacted by climate change and (2) provide some insights into how researchers can help business owners prepare for these potential impacts. Overall, the results of this work illustrate the challenges that tourism managers face in terms of adapting to climate change despite their high awareness of the importance of weather and climate to their businesses; however, creative methods of communicating climate change science, such as through the use of data visualization techniques and scenario planning, could help overcome some of these barriers. In addition, the results of the analysis of atmospheric-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) and Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model simulations show that climate change could lead to significant changes in winter weather and extreme weather in the Great Lakes region and, subsequently, impact the region's tourism sector. Future research can build on these findings by continuing to explore the best means of quantifying climate change impacts for the tourism sector, evaluate the best way of translating those findings into actionable science for tourism business owners, and expand the dialogue around weather preparedness and long-term sector sustainability.




Cherkauer, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Social research|Hydrologic sciences|Climate Change

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