Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 2453–2469 | Cite as

An assessment of the climatic suitability of Afriski Mountain Resort for outdoor tourism using the Tourism Climate Index (TCI)

  • Kirsten Noome
  • Jennifer M. FitchettEmail author


Tourism Climatic Indices (TCIs) are widely used in the global North to quantify the climatic suitability of a destination for tourism. Only one such study has been conducted in southern Africa to date. It is in a chronic shortage of research on tourism and climate change in the southern hemisphere. This study presents the application of the TCI in Lesotho, calculated for the eastern Lesotho Highlands. The region has an emerging tourism sector, which primarily comprises outdoor activities. These include hiking, horse-riding, music festivals, mountain biking, cultural visits, sightseeing, and at the Afriski lodge, skiing and snowboarding. These activities are reliant on climatic conditions that are conducive to the activity taking place, prolonged periods outdoors, and tourist satisfaction of the activity. Climate is a major determinant of both the length of season for these activities and the timing of peak tourist arrivals. Rising temperatures and changes in relative humidity and precipitation pose real threats to hiking, sightseeing and snow tourism at Afriski. The reliance of tourism in the region on specific climatic conditions for successful tourism prompted the use of the TCI. TCI results classify the eastern Lesotho Highlands as having ‘good’ climatic conditions with an overall TCI score of 64 for the period 2012–2017. Monthly TCI scores for the eastern Lesotho reveal a bimodal-shoulder, meaning the peak climatic conditions are in the regional summer months (December to February). This conflicts with the peak tourist seasons of summer and winter, which align with South African school holidays, and the timing of the most profitable tourism activity (skiing) which occurs during the winter months of June, July and August. Lesotho is landlocked by South Africa. TCI analysis for South Africa reveals more suitable climatic conditions for tourism than Lesotho, with significantly higher scores of 80–89.


Climate Tourism Climatic Index (TCI) Lesotho Highlands Outdoor tourism Snow tourism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We are grateful to the management of Afriski Mountain Resort for kindly sharing the meteorological data that were collected on site. We thank Prof. G Hoogendoorn and Ms. L Stockigt for their assistance with fieldwork and obtaining the data. JF is funded by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Palaeoscience. We thank the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable inputs.


  1. Afriski (2018) Tourist attractions., accessed 20 October 2018.
  2. Amelung B, Viner D (2006) Mediterranean Tourism: exploring the future with the Tourism Climatic Index. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 14(4): 349–366. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amelung B, Nicholls S, Viner D (2007) Implications of Global Climate Change for Tourism Flows and Seasonality. Journal of Travel Research 45(3): 285–296. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aylen J, Albertson K, Cavan G (2014) The impact of weather and climate on tourist demand: the case of Chester Zoo. Climatic Change 127(2): 183–197. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baral S, Adams D, Lebona J, et al. (2011) A cross-sectional assessment of population demographics, HIV risks and human rights contexts among men who have sex with men in Lesotho. Journal of the International AIDS Society 14(1): 36–44. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becken S (2010) The importance of climate and weather for tourism: literature review. LEAP, New Zealand. Scholar
  7. Blamey RC, Kolusu SR, Mahlalela P, et al. (2018) The role of regional circulation features in regulating El Niño climate impacts over southern Africa: A comparison of the 2015/2016 drought with previous events. International Journal of Climatology 38(11): 4276–4295. Scholar
  8. Bunakov OA, Zaitseva NA, Larionova AA, et al. (2018) Development Perspectives of “Last Chance Tourism” as One of the Directions of Ecological Tourism. Ekoloji Dergisi, 106. Scholar
  9. Cai W, Di H, Liu X (2019) Estimation of the Spatial Suitability of Winter Tourism Destinations Based on Copula Functions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(2): 186. Scholar
  10. Campos Rodrigues L, Freire-González J, González Puig A, Puig-Ventosa I (2018) Climate Change Adaptation of Alpine Ski Tourism in Spain. Climate 6(2): 29–41. Scholar
  11. Chi C, Qu H (2008) Examining the structural relationships of destination image, tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty: An integrated approach. Tourism Management 29(4): 624–636. Scholar
  12. de Freitas CR, Scott D, McBoyle G (2008) A second-generation Climate Index for Tourism (CIT): specification and verification. International Journal of Biometeorology 52(5): 399–407. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Demiroglu OC, Dannevig H, Aall C (2018) Climate change acknowledgement and responses of summer (glacier) ski visitors in Norway. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism 18(4): 419–438. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dubois G, Ceron J, Gössling S, Hall C (2016) Weather preferences of French tourists: lessons for climate change impact assessment. Climatic Change 136(2): 339–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elsasser H, Bürki R (2002) Climate change as a threat to tourism in the Alps. Climate Research 20(3): 253–257. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Faturiyele I, Karletsos D, Ntene-Sealiete K, et al. (2018) Access to HIV care and treatment for migrants between Lesotho and South Africa: a mixed methods study. Public Health 18(1): 668–678. Google Scholar
  17. Fitchett JM, Grant B, Hoogendoorn G (2016) Climate change threats to two low-lying South African coastal towns: Risks and perceptions. South African Journal of Science 112(5–6): 86–94. Google Scholar
  18. Fitchett JM, Robinson D, Hoogendoorn G (2017) Climate suitability for tourism in South Africa. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 25(6): 851–867. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giaoutzi M (2017) Tourism and regional development: New pathways. Routledge. New York. ISBN: 9781315235967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giddy JK (2016) Environmental Values and Behaviours of Adventure Tourism Operators: The case of the Tsitsikamma, South Africa. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure 5(4): 1–19. ISSN: 2223-814XGoogle Scholar
  21. Giddy JK, Webb NL (2018) Environmental attitudes and adventure tourism motivations. GeoJournal 83(2): 275–287. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Giddy JK, Fitchett JM, Hoogendoorn G (2017) Insight into American tourists’ experiences with weather in South Africa. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-Economic Series 38: 57–71. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gössling S, Scott D, Hall CM, et al. (2012) Consumer behaviour and demand response of tourists to climate change. Annals of Tourism Research 39(1): 36–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grab SW, Simpson AJ (2000) Climatic and environmental impacts of cold fronts over KwaZulu-Natal and the adjacent interior of southern Africa. South African Journal of Science 96(1): 602–608. Scholar
  25. Grab S, Nüsser N (2001) Towards an integrated research approach for the Drakensberg and Lesotho mountain environments: a case study from the Sani plateau region. South African Geographical Journal 83(1): 64–68. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grab SW, Nash DJ (2010) Documentary evidence of climate variability during cold seasons in Lesotho, southern Africa, 1833–1900. Climate Dynamics 34(4): 473–499. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grab SW, Linde JH (2014) Mapping exposure to snow in a developing African context: implications for human and livestock vulnerability in Lesotho. Natural Hazards 71(3): 1537–1560. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Grab SW, Mulder NA, Mills SC (2009) Spatial associations between longest — lasting winter snow cover and cold region landforms in the high Drakensberg, southern Africa. Geografiska Annaler: Series A 91(2): 83–97. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hall C (1992) Adventure, sport and health tourism. In: Hall CM and Weiler B (eds.), Special Interest Tourism. London: Belhaven Press. ISBN: 1852930721Google Scholar
  30. Hoogendoorn G, Fitchett J (2018b) Tourism and climate change: a review of threats and adaptation strategies for Africa. Current Issues in Tourism 21(7): 742–759. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoogendoorn G, Grant B, Fitchett JM (2016) Disjunct perceptions? Climate change threats in two-low lying South African coastal towns. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series 31: 59–71. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hughes L, Stock P, Brailsford L, Alexander D (2018) Icons at risk: Climate Change threatening Australian tourism. Climate Council of Australia, Australia. ISBN: 9781925573480Google Scholar
  33. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2018) Summary for Policymakers. In: Masson-Delmotte V, Zhai P, Pörtner HO, et al. (eds.), Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. World Meteorological Organization. Switzerland.Google Scholar
  34. Kaján E, Saarinen J (2013) Tourism, climate change and adaptation: a review. Current Issues in Tourism 16(2): 167–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Karmalkar A, McSweeney C, New A, Lizcano G (2012) UNDP climate change country profiles: South Africa., accessed October 2018.
  36. Lakhraj-Govender R, Grab SW (2018) Assessing the impact of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on South African temperatures during austral summer. International Journal of Climatology 39(1): 143–156. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Li H, Goh C, Hung K, Chen JL (2018) Relative climate index and its effect on seasonal tourism demand Journal of Travel Research 57(2): 178–192. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martín MBG (2005) Weather, climate and tourism a geographical perspective. Annals of Tourism Research 32(3): 571–591. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McKay T (2018) An analysis of the South African adventure tourism industry. Anatolia 29(4): 529–539. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mearns K (2011) Using sustainable tourism indicators to measure the sustainability of a community-based ecotourism venture: Malealea Lodge and Pony Trek Centre, Lesotho. Tourism Review International 15(1–2): 135–147. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mearns K (2016) Climate change and tourism: some industry responses to mitigate tourism’s contribution to climate change. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure 5(2): 2–9. ISSN: 2223-814XGoogle Scholar
  42. Mieczkowski Z (1985) The tourism climatic index: a method of evaluating world climates for tourism. Canadian Geographer 29(3): 220–233. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mihăilă D, Bistricean PI (2018) The suitability of Moldova Climate for Balneary-Climatic Tourism and Outdoor Activities — A Study Based on the Tourism Climate Index. Present Environment and Sustainable Development 12(1): 263–282. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mohan S, Morton B (2009) The Future of Development Cooperation in a Changing Climate. Proceedings of Rethinking Development in a Carbon-Constrained World Development Cooperation and Climate Change, Finland. ISBN 978-951-724-742-9Google Scholar
  45. Morgan R, Gatell E, Junyent R, et al. (2000) An improved user-based beach climate index. Journal of Coastal Conservation 6(1): 41–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nash DJ, Grab SW (2010) “A sky of brass and burning winds”: documentary evidence of rainfall variability in the Kingdom of Lesotho, Southern Africa, 1824–1900. Climatic Change 101(3–4): 617–653. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pandy WR, Rogerson CM (2018) Tourism and climate change: Stakeholder perceptions of at-risk tourism segments in South Africa. EuroEconomica 37(2): 4553–4568. ISSN: 1582-8859Google Scholar
  48. Perch-Nielsen SL, Amelung B, Knutti R (2010) Future climate resources for tourism in Europe based on the daily Tourism Climatic Index. Climatic Change 103(3–4): 363–381. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Preston-Whyte RA, Watson HK (2005) Nature tourism and climatic change in Southern Africa. Tourism, Recreation and Climate Change 130–142. ISBN: 1845410033Google Scholar
  50. Pomposi C, Funk C, Shukla S, et al. (2018) Distinguishing southern Africa precipitation response by strength of El Niño events and implications for decision-making. Environmental Research Letters 13(7).
  51. Rogerson CM (2009) Tourism development in Southern Africa: patterns, issues and constraints. In: Saarinen J, Becker F, Manwa H, Wilson D (eds.), Sustainable tourism in Southern Africa: Local communities and natural resources in transition. Channel View, Bristol. pp 20–44.Google Scholar
  52. Rogerson CM, Letsie T (2013) Informal sector business tourism in the global South: Evidence from Maseru, Lesotho. Urban Forum 24(4):485–502. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rogerson C (2018) Local Economic Development in the Changing World: The Experience of Southern Africa. Routledge. New York. ISBN 9781351322607.xGoogle Scholar
  54. Rogerson C, Visser G (2011) African tourism geographies: existing paths and new directions. Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 102(3): 251–259. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Roshan G, Yousefi R, Fitchett JM (2016) Long-term trends in Tourism Climate Index scores for 40 stations across Iran: the role of climate change and influence on tourism sustainability. International Journal of Biometeorology 60(1): 33–52. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Saarinen J, Hambira WL, Atlhopheng J, Manwa H (2012) Perceived impacts and adaptation strategies of the tourism industry to climate change in Kgalagadi South District, Botswana. Development Southern Africa 29(2): 273–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Samimi AJ, Sadeghi S, Sadeghi S (2017) The relationship between foreign direct investment and tourism development: evidence from developing countries. Institutions and Economies 5(2): 59–68. ISSN 2232-1349Google Scholar
  58. Sat24 (2018), accessed 2 June 2018.
  59. Scott D, McBoyle G (2001) Using a ‘Tourism Climate Index’ to examine the implications of climate change for climate as a tourism resource. In: Matzarakis A, de Freitas CR (eds.), Proceedings of the first international workshop on climate, tourism and recreation, International Society of Biometeorology, Commission on Climate, Tourism and Recreation Freiburg, Germany. pp 69–88.Google Scholar
  60. Scott D (2003) Climate change and tourism in the mountain regions of North America. 1st International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism.Google Scholar
  61. Scott D, McBoyle G, Schwartzentruber M (2004) Climate change and the distribution of climatic resources for tourism in North America. Climate Research 27(2): 105–117. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Scott D, Jones B, Konopek J (2008) Exploring the impact of climate-induced environmental changes on future visitation to Canada’s Rocky Mountain National Parks. Tourism Review International 12(1): 43–56. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scott D, Lemieux C (2010) Weather and climate information for tourism. Procedia Environmental Sciences 1: 146–183. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Scott D, Gössling S, Hall CM (2012) International tourism and climate change. Climatic Change 3(3): 213–232. Google Scholar
  65. Scott D, Rutty M, Amelung B, Tang M (2016) An intercomparison of the Holiday Climate Index (HCI) and the Tourism Climate Index (TCI) in Europe. Atmosphere 7(6): 80–97. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Scott D, Hall CM, Gössling S (2019) Global tourism vulnerability to climate change. Annals of Tourism Research 77: 49–61. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shih C, Nicholls S, Holecek D (2009) Impact of weather on downhill ski lift ticket sales. Journal of Travel Research 47(3): 359–37. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Steiger R, Mayer M (2008) Snowmaking and climate change: Future options for snow production in Tyrolean ski resorts. Mountain Research and Development 28(3): 292–298. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Steiger R, Scott D, Abegg B, et al. (2017) A critical review of climate change risk for ski tourism. Current Issues in Tourism. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Strobl A, Teichmann K, Peters M (2015). Do mountain tourists demand ecotourism? Examining moderating influences in an Alpine tourism context. Tourism 63(3): 383–398. ISSN 383–398Google Scholar
  71. Stockigt L, Hoogendoorn G, Fitchett JM, Saarinen J (2018) Climatic sensitivity and snow-based tourism in Africa: an investigation of TripAdvisor reviews on Afriski, Lesotho. Proceedings of Biennial Conference of the Society of South African Geographers, Bloemfontein.Google Scholar
  72. Turpie J, Winkler H, Spalding-Fecher R, Midgley G (2002) Economic impacts of climate change in South Africa: a preliminary analysis of unmitigated damage costs. Unpublished report. University of Cape Town.Google Scholar
  73. UNESCO (2018) South Africa., accessed on 30th October 2018.
  74. Vanat L (2016) 2016 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism. Overview of the key industry figures for ski resorts., accessed on 8 September 2018.
  75. Vanat L (2018) 2018 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism. Overview of the key industry figures for ski resorts., accessed 2 November 2018.
  76. Wikle TA (2015) Subsistence farming and economic hardship in Lesotho, Africa’s mountain kingdom. Focus on Geography 58(2): 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wilkins E, de Urioste-Stone S, Weiskittel A, Gabe T (2018) Effects of weather conditions on tourism spending: implications for future trends under climate change. Journal of Travel Research 57(8): 1042–1053. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. World Bank (2016) Lesotho water security and climate change assessment., accessed 12 October 2018.
  79. WTTC (2017) Travel and tourism economic impact 2017 world., accessed on 9 May 2018.
  80. WTTC (2018) Travel and tourism economic impact 2018 world., accessed 22 October 2018.
  81. Yfantidou G, Matarazzo M (2017) The future of sustainable tourism in developing countries. Sustainable Development 5(6): 459–466. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yiu L, Saner R, Lee MR (2015) Lesotho, a tourism destination: an analysis of Lesotho’s current tourism products and potential for growth. In: Camillo A (ed.), Handbook of Research on Global Hospitality and Tourism Management, IGI Global, Pennsylvania. pp 312–331. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Yu G, Schwartz Z, Walsh JE (2009) A weather-resolving index for assessing the impact of climate change on tourism related climate resources. Climatic Change 95(3–4): 551–573. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations