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Effect of climate change on coastal tourism

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Climate change has resulted in increased forecasts of higher temperatures, as well as drought and desertification, particularly for the Mediterranean and south Atlantic regions. In the future, this could discourage tourism in the summer months, moving tourism more to other seasons or adjacent months. Europe is also vulnerable to changing seasonal and annual precipitation patterns, including more intense rainfall events and increased flooding at certain times of the year.

The projected temperature increases resulting from climate change for equatorial and tropical regions, and for Mediterranean and south Atlantic region are quite striking. These temperature impacts could be disproportionately felt in the summer tourist season, and could affect these tourist developments and destinations. Sustainable water uses will be relevant as temperatures increase.

Greater temperatures, as well as greater energy efficiencies and carbon reductions, will need to be considered for the design of future developments. Energy uses may have to increase in the future in order to provide cooling during the hotter summer period. Unless this energy is locally sourced or inexpensive, the economic viability of these developments could be affected. Sustainable tourist developments could be designed for energy efficiency and to generate and use renewable or low carbon energy sources.

Another more difficult factor to predict is the overall impact of temperature increases on the desire of tourists to travel to the Mediterranean region. Certain tourist developments may be less busy during the summer, and either become busier in the spring and fall, or lose overall visitors. These seasonal changes and potential decreases in overall visitors could impact the economic viability of small and large scale developments.

Changes in the seasonality of tourist demand could also affect working and social patterns in local communities, and eliminate or reduce the quieter period that allowed communities to tolerate large quantities of visitors during the remaining part of the year. Therefore, it would be useful to consider and plan for the possible social and cultural impacts of changing tourist demand on local communities.

References

Case Study: Climate Change and European Coast and Beach Management, 2006, Completed by M.A.K.Muir for EU-funded Coastal Practise Network (CoPraNet)
The main author of this article is Magdalena Muir
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.