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 (5).
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 (3).
Tourism in numbers - Cyprus
Cyprus is highly dependent on international tourism. The sector accounts for more than 25% of total employment (5). Tourism is a vital economic sector of Cyprus. Every year, approximately 2 million tourists visit Cyprus providing economic growth and employment for the country. In 2014, for instance, tourism revenue amounted to 2.44 billion Euros contributing approximately 14% to Cyprus’ GDP (8).
Vulnerabilities - Cyprus
The impact of climate change on tourism is generally expressed in terms of a Tourism Climate Index. This index typically consists of elements describing daytime thermal comfort and daily thermal comfort (including the effect of relative humidity), precipitation, hours of sunshine, and wind speed. This index was estimated for Cyprus for the period 2071 - 2100 using regional climate model output based on an intermediate scenario of climate change (the so-called IPCC SRES A1B scenario). The results were compared with index estimates for the 1961 - 1990 period. From these projections it was concluded that the considerable warming of about 4°C projected during summer (when the majority of tourists visit Cyprus) will have a negative impact on the tourism industry of Cyprus in the distant future (2071 - 2100, compared with 1961 - 1990). The adverse effect of climate change will be most pronounced during summer, followed by a smaller effect during fall, while in winter the effect of climate change will be positive and in spring there will be no significant change (7).
This Tourism Climate Index, however, may be inadequate for tourism industry in Cyprus. It strongly emphasizes the higher temperatures that negatively affect general sightseeing activities. Most of the tourists visiting Cyprus go to the beach, however. Thus, an index focused on beach tourism may be more appropriate to describe potential climate impacts on tourism. Indeed, a Beach Tourism Index based on the same climate projections indicates that the tourism industry of Cyprus will not be negatively affected by future climate change and any changes will be positive (7).
There is a snag, however. Experts may judge that Cyprus stays a good beach destination in the future, but beaches in the north of Europe will become better destinations as well. In the future, tourists may no longer move to the south of Europe for their summer holidays. Cyprus, along with other countries in the Mediterranean region, will have to become more competitive with other destinations, such as the North Sea and Baltic regions, and the northern Atlantic coast of Spain (9).
More frequent and more intense heat waves and drought are likely to discourage Mediterranean summer holidays. There is likely to be a shift in the Mediterranean holiday season to spring and autumn. Water shortages could be experienced in most years, partly due to the fact that tourists use far more water per capita than the local population (1).
Vulnerabilities – In general
There are four broad categories of climate change impacts that will affect tourism destinations, their competitiveness and sustainability (4):
- 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.
Adaptation strategies - Cyprus
The following adaptation measures have been recommended (6):
- Guidelines for sustainable tourism and adaptation to climate change must be developed and public awareness has to be raised;
- The tourism industry should rapidly respond to the expected decrease in summer tourism and to the shift in tourists’ distribution to spring and autumn and must take action to combat the emerging competitiveness from other destinations in Europe, which will be favoured by climate change (6). Climate change may even be beneficial for the Mediterranean tourist industry if it levels-out demand, reducing the summer peak, while increasing occupancy in the shoulder seasons. In the absence of such adjustments, the Mediterranean tourist industry will be among the main losers (3).;
- The tourism industry should make investments in infrastructure/technologies to upgrade facilities to face increased temperature and water shortage, and take measures to counteract possible weather extremes and flooding;
- Adjustments are necessary to reduce the industry’s carbon and water footprint and to gain competitive advantage from such actions;
- Shift from mass/coastal tourism to special interest tourism is a necessity.
The Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) already has undertaken several initiatives toward lengthening the tourist season and diversifying its tourist product, with an ultimate aim to establish Cyprus as an ‘‘all year round’’ tourist destination. In particular, less climate-dependent tourist products are identified and promoted, such as conferences, sports, golf, health, culture, weddings, and honeymoon trips (10).
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 (4).
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 (4).
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 (4).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Cyprus.
- Giannakopoulos et al. (2005)
- Amelung and Viner (2006)
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- UNWTO, UNEP and WHO (2008)
- Deutsche Bank Research (2008)
- Shoukri and Zachariadis (2012)
- Lemesios et al. (2016)
- CYSTAT (2015b, c), in Lemesios et al. (2016)
- Ehmer and Heymann (2008), in Lemesios et al. (2016)
- CTO (2011), in Lemesios et al. (2016)