climate-induced environmental change and the future of tourism at the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park
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Nature-based tourism is an important element of the tourism industry in North America and a sizeable share occurs in national parks located in the mountainous regions of western Canada and the United States. However, the major tourism resources located in parks and protected areas are projected to undergo largescale changes as a result of climate change. The implications for visitation, tourist satisfaction and park management remain largely unexplored and there is little understanding of how adaptations pursued by park managers and stakeholders may change the way potential visitors perceive destinations. The aim of this research is to determine how much change the Athabasca Glacier can sustain from its current state from the visitor perspective within each of the three components that make up the concept of carrying capacity: environmental resources, type and quality of the experience, and extent and direction of management action. Using the limits of acceptable change framework and scenario planning, visualizations of four tourism development scenarios for 2050 were developed and presented to tourists at the Athabasca Glacier through a tablet-based survey. The survey examined visitor perceptions of carrying capacity issues and satisfaction with current and future experiences. The subsequent findings indicate that if the type of landscape change anticipated were to occur satisfaction would decrease. Satisfaction with the tourism development scenarios decreased as the number of people and facilities and infrastructure increased and commitment to ecological integrity decreased. The results from this study can be used to better inform policy and management decisions at the park level and help identify what needs to be done to protect Canada’s significant nature-based tourism industry in western Canada.
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melissa weber (2017). climate-induced environmental change and the future of tourism at the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12258