Beach Oriented Summer Tourism
The effects of increasing temperatures on regional and seasonal distribution
What do the results tell us?
A warming climate will have two likely effects on beach tourism in Europe. First, weather conditions will improve in most parts of Europe and most months. Second, some Mediterranean destinations will become too hot to be perceived as comfortable anymore. However, until 2050 effects of climate change may have a smaller impact on touristic overnight stays than other factors like competition between touristic areas.
When assessing the impacts of climate change on beach oriented summer tourism, we considered two different strategies of how tourists might adapt to altered climatic conditions: (i) sticking to the month of beach holiday making, but changing the destination or (ii) changing the month and/or the destination of beach holiday making. When expressed on a seasonal basis, the choice between these two tourist adaptation strategies has only limited effects on the resulting impacts. However, monthly impact patterns vary significantly with the tourist adaptation strategy applied. Assuming tourists to adapt by changing only their beach holiday destination (Figure 1), some Mediterranean areas will lose overnight stays in the midsummer month while others will gain overnight stays. Assuming tourists to adapt by changing timing and/or destination of their beach holidays (Figure 2), a significant shift from midsummer to current shoulder seasons is indicated.
In a second scenario, we assumed destinations becoming "too" hot to successfully adapt to climate change (Figure 3). Regions that successfully adapt to climate change can significantly reduce, but not completely prevent losses in overnight stays due to increased competition. For regions unable to adapt, the successful adaptation of other regions negatively affects their overnight stays.
What can we do with the results?
As an outcome of the case study, it is more advantageous for southern regions to focus on adaptation measures during midsummer. If climate conditions in the northern regions improve, people from these regions may rather spend their holidays in nearby, domestic destinations.
How are the results obtained?
In recent years, several studies on the relation between weather conditions and touristic comfort were published. Based on these studies, we use econometric tools to establish a connection between monthly data on overnight stays (from selected national statistic institutes) and climate parameters. These results are then used to simulate future tourist flows.
For the estimation of parameters we use monthly counts of overnight stays from national statistic agencies as well as weather data from E-OBS gridded dataset and ERA-INTERIM reanalysis data. Climate change impacts are assessed for the periods 2015-2045 and 2035-2065, using data from two different climate models, i.e. CNRM-CM5 and HadGEM2ES. Two combinations of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) are considered: RCP4.5/SSP4 and RCP8.5/SSP5. Results on the summary page are shown for RCP4.5/SSP4. Climate change impacts are measured relative to a baseline, which simulates overnight stays according to the supposed socio-economic scenario, but based on the climate of 1979-2009.
The major uncertainty lies in the future reaction of tourists to climatic changes. On the one hand it is not completely clear which weather conditions are perceived as being too hot by the majority of tourists; on the other hand it is difficult to predict the reaction of tourists, e.g. to what extent they will change the timing or the destination of their trips. Furthermore, there is some uncertainty about future climatic conditions. As illustrated by Figure 4, results of our impact assessments depend on the climate model applied.
What are the broader applications?
Potential broader applications include the extension of the tourism model to further climatic indices or other types of tourism (e.g. city tourism, hiking tourism, alpine skiing, etc.). The basic methodology is to combine data on tourism demand, expressed e.g. by overnight stays, and climate data to evaluate the utility of different climatic conditions. In addition, we can take competition into account. The methodology could be used for other economic sectors, but also for smaller entities or time scales.
Within ToPDAd climate change impact assessment is carried out on NUTS 3 level. A possible extension is to apply the model to a smaller spatial scale and assess the impacts of climate change on different recreational activities. The methodology may also be used to evaluate the weather dependency of individual recreation companies and assess the climate-proofness of their business models.
Key Messages and Conclusions
Distribution of overnight stays will shift inside the season
ToPDAd model simulations show that in the warmer regions in Europe overnight stays will shift to current shoulder seasons. This shift is more pronounced when tourists are assumed to be flexible with respect to their travelling period. If, on the other hand, tourists are assumed to stick to their usual holiday timing, results indicate a more pronounced spatial shift of overnight stays from too hot to comparably cooler regions during midsummer.
(for country code explanations please check the read more section below)
Average percentage change in monthly overnight stays (2035-2065 vs. baseline) in beach dominated regions for RCP4.5/SSP4 when tourists adapt by changing the destination, but sticking to the month of beach holiday making; average over all climate scenarios with error bars indicating their range.
Average percentage change in monthly overnight stays (2035-2065 vs. baseline) in beach dominated regions for RCP4.5/SSP4 when tourists adapt by changing timing and/or destination of their beach holidays; average over all climate scenarios with error bars indicating their range.
Country codes in the above graphs:
CY-EL-BG-RO: Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania
SI-HR: Slovenia, Croatia
FR MED: French Mediterranean coast
ES MED: Spanish Mediterranean coast
ES OTH: Spain other
FR OTH: France other
UK: United Kingdom
BE-DE-DK-NL: Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands
LT-LV-EE: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
Adaptation can reduce regional losses
ToPDAd model simulations show that successful adaptation can significantly reduce losses of regions with too hot summer temperatures, but cannot compensate for all losses because of increased competition in current shoulder seasons.
Figure: Average percentage change in summer overnight stays (2035-2065 vs. baseline) in beach dominated regions for RCP4.5/SSP4 when tourists adapt by changing timing and/or destination of their beach holidays; no adaptation by destinations (left) vs. successful adaptation by destinations becoming "too" hot (right); average over all climate scenarios.
Uncertainty in climate models
Climate change impacts on summer overnight stays heavily depend on the climate model used.
Figure: Average percentage change in summer overnight stays (2035-2065 vs. baseline) in beach dominated regions for RCP4.5/SSP4 when tourists adapt by changing timing and/or destination of their beach holidays; climate model CNRM-CM5 (left) vs. HadGEM2ES (right).