Modeling Climate-altered Visitation Patterns

Integrating hydroclimatological models with non-market economics to better understand how outdoor recreationists' and tourists' visitation patterns will change under future climate change scenarios

Many communities located in natural resource rich landscapes have transitioned to tourism-based economies. This transition might not be sustainable, as climate and environmental change have unknown effects on the visitation patterns of outdoor recreationists and tourists. We address this uncertainty by estimating shifts in the demand for outdoor recreation destinations along Minnesota’s North Shore region of Lake Superior under a range of projected climatic and environmental conditions. We also employ a finite-mixture modeling approach to capture the preference heterogeneity across North Shore visitors. Our findings indicate projected climate and environmental changes are not likely to significantly affect visitation patterns in the next 20 years. However, utilizing a finite-mixture modeling approach enabled us to identify distinct types of visitors with divergent visitation behaviors under altered climate and environmental conditions. Our findings suggest the demand for outdoor recreation along the North Shore will be relatively stable in the near future, however different types of visitors will respond to warming winter conditions in divergent ways. Shifting visitation patterns under climate and environmental change may have more drastic alterations to the economic well-being of the region under a longer planning horizon.

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