The deployment of snowmaking in the French ski tourism industry: a path development approach

Berard-Chenu, Lucas ; François, Hugues ; Morin, Samuel ; George, Emmanuelle

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<p align=justify>Many mountainous regions in Europe, including their tourism sectors, show a high degree of economic specialization. The ski tourism industry forms part of the long-standing economic success of the French Alps. Over the past 20 years, snowmaking has become a key feature of ski tourism, but future climate change will decrease its effectiveness as an adaptation solution to natural snow cover reduction. However, the ski tourism industry does not seem to be intent on stopping its investment in snowmaking, which raises the question of its dependence on this technology. In this study, we employ the path development framework to examine how snowmaking development has oriented decision-making to ensure the future of the French ski tourism industry. We analysed 38 in-depth semi-directive interviews and key financial figures from the French alpine ski tourism industry. Our results show that technical progress and specific investments in snowmaking have deeply transformed the management of ski resorts. Our finding is that snowmaking spurred ski lift operators to pursue specialization in the ski tourism industry. However, because of its ambivalent effects on the ski tourism industry, we view snowmaking development both as path extension and as path contraction.</p>
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