It is December 14 , 2015. The temperature is 11 degrees C and rain is falling. No snow in the Haliburton Highlands. I have clients booked to go dog sledding on December 28 and given the long range forecast it looks like they may be getting a refund. This whacky winter weather is having an impact on business. These conditions are a sign of things to come. Regardless of progress made in at the recent climate change talks in Paris , I am afraid we are going to lose our winters in the longer term. Current science suggests that by mid-century we will have a climate similar to current conditions in the state of Virginia.
So what is a tourism business and industry to do in the face of climate change? I have been aware of the issue since the 70’s and have made a point of staying informed over those many years. It is so unfortunate that the population at large is just starting to pay attention and take some action. Too little, too late, I am afraid. The best we can do at this point is adapt and mitigate the impact of a warming planet. A couple of months ago the Haliburton Highlands Tourism Stakeholder Group invited Peter Schleifenbaum of Haliburton Forest to make a presentation on the Impacts of Climate Change on Tourism. Winters, and certain tree, fish and wildlife populations are at risk. It was an eye opener for many of the 55 people in attendance. Perhaps as a tourism community we should be starting to plan for this change. What will our tourism industry look like 5 or 10 or 20 years? What kinds of experiences can we offer when we get 4 months of November weather? Important questions that we will need to try to answer .
In the meantime when the snow comes I will embrace it, play in it, smell it (I love the smell of winter) and taste it. No doubt there will be cold and snowy times ahead but their days and years are numbered . Please join us in the Haliburton Highlands this winter for fun and adventure. Let’s enjoy it while we can.