Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Other reports in this collection Tourism

The tourist industry in Europe is expected to continue to grow, in part as a result of higher incomes and more leisure time. Predominant tourist flows presently are from north to south; at present these flows help to transfer capital. Changes in recreational habits and preferences will lead to opportunities for tourist investment in new areas, but existing major tourist flows to the Mediterranean might be weakened if summer heat waves increase in frequency or if prolonged droughts result in water supply problems and forest fires. Giles and Perry (1998) have shown that summers as good as that of 1995 in northern Europe can lead to a drop in the numbers of outbound tourists from countries such as the UK to traditional Mediterranean sun destinations.

Changing demographic patterns—particularly an aging, wealthy population—may lead to an increase in winter and shoulder season tourism to Mediterranean resorts and expansion of retirement to attractive areas, particularly coasts. “Health tourism” to spas and mountains is likely to increase in Europe. In northern Europe, short breaks are likely to be taken over a longer season as temperatures rise.

The coastal zone is the primary tourist resource of Europe, and associated tourist infrastructure is at risk from sea-level rise, including unique tourist attractions such as the city of Venice (Perry, 1999). Beaches, wetlands, and estuaries also are tourist resources that are at risk. Already, many tourist amenities, such as coastal golf courses and hotels, require protection. The need to maintain coastal amenity values, as well as protect infrastructure, is an important factor that is encouraging a shift from hard, rigid defenses to softer approaches, including sediment management and nourishment (Penning-Rowsell et al., 1992; Hamm et al., 1998).

Heat stress and poor urban air quality may render cities undesirable locations in summer, with more tourist traffic to the country and the coast. Outdoor recreational spending is likely to increase.

Mountainous zones are used extensively for recreation and are the main sites of the European winter sports industry, which is based on snow resources that are vulnerable to climate change. Mohnl (1996) has shown that there is a statistically significant trend in snow-cover reduction in the Alps over recent years. Abegg and Froesch (1994) have suggested that assuming a 3°C rise in mean temperatures, the snow line in winter will rise by 300 m in the central Alps, the first snowfall of the season will be delayed, and below an altitude of 1,200 m there will not be continuous winter snow cover. As the season contracts, there will be a need to bolster winter tourism with increased use of artificial snow and more alternatives to outdoor skiing. In Scotland, the skiing industry is likely to experience more frequent snow-deficient winters, with adverse impacts on the financial viability of the industry.

Jaagus (1997) analyzed the impact of climate change on the snow-cover pattern in Estonia, where snow cover is important for winter sports and tourism. Indications are that a considerable drop in snow-cover duration will take place on islands and in the coastal region of west Estonia. Migrations

Migration caused by soil degradation is a very important issue in the Mediterranean region, the southern part of which is mostly arid and vulnerable to climate change. With perhaps 24% of total drylands in Africa in the process of desertification and 0.3% of the African population permanently displaced largely as a result of environmental degradation (LeHouerou, 1992), consequent in-migration pressures on neighboring regions such as southern Europe can be substantial (Goria, 1999).

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