A new report by the European Commission’s in-house science service Joint Research Service has suggested that Spain and other Mediterranean countries may end up losing their allure as popular holiday destinations owing to increased temperatures resulting from climate change.
In the study “Time is of the essence: adaptation of tourism demand to climate change in Europe”, researchers have suggested that climate conditions may influence tourism decisions of people and under current economic conditions, the 2100 climate could lower tourism revenues by up to 0.45 per cent of GDP per year in Mediterranean EU regions, while other EU regions in northern Europe could gain up to 0.32 per cent of GDP.
Researchers analysed the potential impact of climate change on tourism demand in the EU and provides long-term (2100) projections accounting for climate adaptation in terms of holiday duration and frequency.
The analysis is based on hedonic valuation of climatic conditions combining external factors such as accommodation and travel cost estimations. These factors are usually ignored in climate adaptation studies.
Tourists shall be expected to alter their decisions on the timing and duration of their holidays, especially if traditional tourism destinations remain attractive outside the summer season. In order to understand how these “soft” adaptation measures could work in practice it is necessary to consider travel and accommodation costs in tourists’ decision choices, in addition to climate-related factors.
According to the study, the demand adaptation in terms of timing of holidays would be more costly for southern European regions and more beneficial to northern and Central European countries and the British Isles.
The adaptation in the duration of holidays appears to limit both the losses of southern European regions and the gains of northern regions. Finally, when considering both the duration and timing of adaption together, the projected falls and gains in tourism demand appear to be much more contained.
However, the study does not consider non-EU regions. In some instances visitors from outside the EU can represent a large share of tourism demand, although current evidence suggests that EU tourism demand originates mainly from within the EU. Future analyses based on the time duration/frequency approach developed in this study could be extended to other regions of the world.