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Will The Mediterranean Become “Too Hot” For Tourism? A Reassessment

M. Rutty, D. Scott
Published 2010 · Geography

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Climate, particularly temperature, is one of the most important resources of a tourist destination. With projected climate change in the twenty-first century, this attribute of tourism destinations is anticipated to change, leading some to conclude that the Mediterranean region will become “too hot” for tourist comfort in the peak summer season by as early as the 2020s or 2030s. This study sought to reassess these claims in the literature and media. Perceptions of “too hot” for comfortable tourism activities at beach and urban destinations was quantified for the young adult travel segment by means of a survey of 850 university students in five countries that represent source markets for the Mediterranean (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland). The threshold that defines “unacceptably hot” for the majority of respondents was then compared against thermal conditions (temperature and humidity) in a baseline climate (1961–1990), and an early (2011–2035), mid (2046–2065) and late century (2080–2099) climate change scenario (A1B) for 10 Mediterranean destinations. By early century under the warmest available climate change scenario, no additional beach or urban destination became unacceptably hot. By mid century, thermal conditions for two additional beach and one additional urban destination became “too hot” during the peak summer months. In the late century scenario, several, but not all, of the destinations (four beach and five urban destinations) were found to exceed the stated “unacceptably hot” thresholds in the summer months. However, given this length of time and the potential for northern European travellers to acclimatize to warmer average temperatures at home, it remains uncertain whether the thermal comfort threshold identified by this sample will persist. An important contrasting point is that at the same time there is a larger decrease in the number of months that are considered “unacceptably cool” for both a beach and urban holiday and an increase in months that become “ideal”. The findings hold important implications for critically assessing the potential impact of climate change in the study area and other destinations more broadly, and can be used to refine models intended to predict the influence of climatic change on the geographic and temporal patterns of international tourism.
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