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The Impact of Climate Change on Tourism in the Mediterranean Region

July 22, 2013

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (2009), the Mediterranean region is the world’s leading tourism destination attracting about one fifth of the total international tourism arrivals and accounting for over 30% of the world’s total international tourism receipts. The annual flow of Europeans form the temperate northern regions south to the Mediterranean is the largest single flow of tourists around the world involving 116 million tourists (UNWTO, 2003). The predictability of the weather conditions (sun shine hours, temperature, presence/absence of rain…) is the main characteristic feature of the Mediterranean region (Rutty & Scott, 2010). In terms of motivation for tourists, studies have shown that climate is either the most or one of the most important factors that tourists consider when choosing a travel destination (Kozak, 2002; Martín & Belén, 2005; Scott et al., 2008). So this multi-billion euro industry is highly dependent on climate resources. However, it is now undisputable that the global climate is changing. Indeed, by the end of the 21st century, annual temperature in the Mediterranean are expected to increase by 1.48 0C to 8.28 0C (Susan, 2007) accompanied by an increase in the risk of heat waves, wildfires and droughts (Parry, 2007). This climatic change might lead to shifts in touristic flows resulting in large economic consequences. Climate change has been identified by some scientists as the number one challenge to tourism in the 21st century (Hall & Higham, 2005). The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave more significance to tourism as compared to previous assessments and stated that “higher summer temperatures may lead to a gradual decrease in summer tourism in the Mediterranean” (Parry, 2007). Tourism in the Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable to global climate change since climate is one of the most important natural tourism assets in this part of the world. This paper will discuss the impact of global climate change on tourism and the economy in the Mediterranean region.

Gebrayel A, 2013, The Impact of Climate Change on Tourism in the Mediterranean Region, Global Climate Change (EH525), Cyprus International Institute for Environment and Public Health.  Chapter.

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