Ski tourism and environmental problems: the ecologic awareness among different groups


Using the “three component model” theory with regard to ecological attitude towards ski tourism, these components can be described as follows:

  1. Cognitive component: knowledge and perception of problems
  2. Affective component: feelings of consternation and strain
  3. Active component: willingness to change one’s habits

In this vein, this pilot study demonstrated the relation between ecological and economical aspects of winter tourism, using the ecological consciousness of different groups (tourists, locals, and the Austrian and Belgian population in general) as an example. In conclusion, it can be said that ecological problems are perceived differently by the different groups.

The basic hypothesis could be verified: Ski tourists and locals who are not dependent on tourism are more ecologically conscious when it comes to ski tourism than those locals who depend on tourism. It stands to reason that this stems from economic factors. The difference in ecological consciousness between the groups disappears altogether when the questions are not based on winter tourism. High regard for environmental issues only occurs in test subjects if neither financial income nor personal comfort are threatened by possible solutions. Surveys in non-alpine areas show that environmental problems as a result of ski tourism are not considered to be so much of a problem and point to a less constant environmental consciousness in these areas.

Tourists agree that there are negative effects on the environment as a result of their actions, but they refuse to let their enjoyment of skiing be spoiled and transfer all the responsibility to the inhabitants of the tourism areas. In their opinion, the locals should consider their guests' satisfaction with their winter vacation to be of major importance. The locals themselves downplay the ecological problems – probably as a result of tourism being their main means of income.

It can be said that Austria must begin to pay far more attention to ecological aspects in connection with winter tourism in order to be able to reap economic benefits in the future.