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Tourism in numbers - Europe

Europe is the most important tourist region in the world. According to UNWTO, in 2006 nearly 55% of all international tourist arrivals (461 million) were on the “old continent”.Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region are the favourite holiday destinations in Europe. According to UNWTO, in 2006 about 165 million tourists visited these regions (3).

At present, the predominant summer tourist flows in Europe are from north to south, to the coastal zone. However, coastal and mountain tourism are the segments that are most vulnerable to climate change, and the Mediterranean region is the world's most popular holiday region: it attracts some 120 million visitors from northern Europe each year, the largest international flow of tourists on the globe, and their spending is in excess of EUR 100 billion (1).

Tourism in numbers - Croatia

Tourism is a very important economic sector in Croatia (17% of GDP). The exceptionally high proportion of international tourists in Croatia (88% of overnight stays) indicates that the sector has a high level of sensitivity to climate change. The Adriatic coast and its offshore islands (e.g. Krk) in particular are the focus of tourist interest (3). In 2007, tourism generated 28.7% of total employment. By 2018, one-third of total employment is expected to occur in the tourism sector (4).

Vulnerabilities – In general

There are four broad categories of climate change impacts that will affect tourism destinations, their competitiveness and sustainability (3):

  • Direct climatic impacts
  • Indirect environmental change impacts. Changes in water availability, biodiversity loss, reduced landscape aesthetic, altered agricultural production (e.g., wine tourism), increased natural hazards, coastal erosion and inundation, damage to infrastructure and the increasing incidence of vector-borne diseases will all impact tourism to varying degrees.
  • Impacts of mitigation policies on tourist mobility. Policies that seek to reduce GHG emissions will lead to an increase in transport costs and may foster environmental attitudes that lead tourists to change their travel patterns.
  • Indirect societal change impacts. Climate change is thought to pose a risk to future economic growth and to the political stability of some nations. Climate change is considered a national and international security risk that will steadily intensify, particularly under greater warming scenarios. Tourists, particularly international tourists, are averse to political instability and social unrest.

Vulnerabilities - Croatia

The inconvenience suffered by tourists as a result of rising temperatures should be relatively limited, at least up to 2030. Positive repercussions are conceivable, if holidaymakers decide to change e.g. from the hotter Greece to Croatia (3).

Adaptation strategies – Croatia

The following steps can be taken in order to address climate change and human development in the tourism sector of Croatia (4):

  • Continue to focus on “climate-proofing” tourism in Croatia – including expanding the tourist season and enhancing the service capacities and products offered within the industry;
  • Encourage measures to increase energy efficiency and improve the ability to keep hotels and buildings cool during the hottest months;
  • Ensure that information on the tourism industry, provided by Government-funded research, is user-friendly and can be easily accessed by the public and stakeholders, in particular;
  • Develop better information for decision-makers (including Government and investors) about future climate change and its likely effect on the natural systems that impact the tourism sector.
  • Develop the capacity to simulate the impacts of climate change on tourism and assess the impacts on the local and national economies.

Adaptation strategies – In general

Climate change is slowly entering into decision-making of a range of tourism stakeholders (e.g., investors, insurance companies, tourism enterprises, governments, and tourists); studies that have examined the climate change risk appraisal of local tourism officials and operators have consistently found relatively low levels of concern and little evidence of long-term strategic planning in anticipation of future changes in climate (2).

There is also some evidence that local tourism operators may be overestimating their adaptive capacity (e.g., capacity to make snow under the warmest scenarios). The incorporation of adaptation to climate change into the collective minds of private and public sector tourism decision-makers (‘mainstreaming’) remains several steps away (2).

The capacity of the tourism sector to adapt to climate change is thought to be relatively high due to its dynamic nature and therefore there will be important opportunities for tourism to reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change (2).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Croatia.

  1. EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
  2. UNWTO, UNEP and WHO (2008)
  3. Deutsche Bank Research (2008)
  4. UNDP (2008)

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