Tourism and Outdoor Recreation

Changing Opportunities?

Climate change will change the flow of tourists at the global level. Canada may benefit as areas such as the Mediterranean or Caribbean become too hot and less attractive to tourists. Tourism and related outdoor recreation activities will impact on both the tourist destinations and on users.

In Saskatchewan there will be changes in habitat, water levels, and wildlife and fisheries species distribution. As a result some tourism and outdoor recreation activities will be negatively impacted. However, new opportunities will arise. Businesses and communities dependent on tourism and recreation will need to adapt to changes in both activities and use patterns.

What You Should Know

The Future Climate:

  • Saskatchewan's climate is expected to be:
    • warmer
    • drier
    • more variable and
    • experience more frequent and more intense extreme events (e.g. heavy precipitation and drought).
  • Precipitations patterns will change -likely wetter, earlier springs and drier summers
  • Droughts will likely increase in intensity and frequency
  • The summer season is expected to:
    • be longer
    • start earlier
    • be warmer

The Impact on Tourism and Recreation Resources:


  • Some tourist destinations in Saskatchewan, such as provincial and national parks, will face challenges as forested areas and water bodies shrink or disappear in a warmer climate.
  • Vegetation cover will change. Along the southern boundary of the boreal forest climate change will cause a shift in vegetation to more drought-resistant species, especially grasses. Loss of trees at some sites may be unavoidable.

Wildlife and Hunting

Waterfowl on Wetland
Waterfowl on a Saskatchewan Wetland
  • Wildlife species may no longer inhabit areas where they have been traditionally viewed or hunted due to changes in biodiversity arising from habitat changes.
  • In forest areas, deer and moose may increase in numbers due to increased fire activity resulting in early to mid-successional forest cover.
  • A major impact on hunting could be a loss in waterfowl habitat as prairie potholes dry up, resulting in a decline in duck productivity.

Fish and Fishing

Fishing in River
Fishing northwest of Shaunavon
  • Species distribution may be affected by changes in water temperatures and levels. 
  • Warmer springs would result in earlier departure of ice from lakes, limit the ice fishing season and increase the likelihood of unsafe ice conditions.


  • Changes in lake levels and stream levels will impact on recreation opportunities. Lower lake and stream levels, particularly in mid- to late summer may reduce opportunities for water based recreation: swimming, fishing, boating, canoe-tripping and whitewater activities.

Winter Recreation

  • Less snow cover and a shorter winter season will affect the timing and amount of opportunities for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. But milder winters overall may encourage winter recreation

The Impacts on Communities and Businesses:

Water Skiing near Elbow on Lake Diefenbaker
  • There will be a longer summer and shoulder seasons
  • There may be increased visitation to parks
  • Communities dependent on waterfowl hunting could experience reduced tourism revenues

Moving Forward - Adaptation Options:

Marina rentals
Boat Rentals on Wascana Lake, Regina
  • Monitor shoulder season weather patterns in order to know how to adapt operating seasons in the futures.
  • Promote and enhance tourist/recreational venues.
  • Lengthen the season in which facilities and services are available in parks and campgrounds.


  1. Berrittella, M., Bigano, A., Roson, R.,and Tol, R.S.J. (2004): A General Equilibrium Analysis of Climate Change Impacts on Tourism; Nota di Lavoro 127, Fondaziono Eni Enrico Mattei, October, 2004.
  2. Henderson, N. et al (2002): Climate Change Impacts on the Island Forests of the Great Plains and the Implications for Nature Conservation Policy; Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, Regina, Saskatchewan, 116 p.
  3. Sauchyn, D.J. and Kulshreshtha, S. (2008): Prairies; in From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007, (eds.) D.S. Lemmen, F.J. Warren, J. Lacroix, and E. Bush; Government of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, p. 275-328. [accessed March 15, 2010].
  4. Scott, D. (2006): Climate Change and Sustainable Tourism in the 21st Century; in Tourism Research: Policy, Planning, and Prospects, (ed.) J. Cukier; University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario , Department of Geography Publication Series, 3.