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 - Malta
Malta is highly dependent on international tourism. The sector accounts for more than 25% of total employment (5).
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.
Vulnerabilities - Malta
The Maltese economy is especially susceptible to changes in expenditure by tourists. Malta’s economic vulnerability to climate change is expected to range from just under moderate to moderate-high (1,5).
The most important impacts include the deterioration of potable water supplies and quality, more frequent extreme weather events, soil degradation, erosion and an accentuated desertification process, threats to public health, changes in sea water mass characteristics and effects on fish stocks, coastal erosion and inundation, and biodiversity reduction (1).
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).
Adaptation strategies - Malta
It is necessary to focus on “win-win” measures that are, in any case, bound to produce positive results for society and would offer protection against the effects of climate change. Examples of such strategies include efficiency in energy production with an emphasis on renewable sources, promoting energy-efficient buildings, upgrading the road network, improving farming methods, afforestation, wetland creation, beach nourishment, prevention of further over-development of coastal activities and upkeep and maintenance of tourist sites, particularly those of historical importance. If these measures are undertaken in a sufficiently timely manner, the need for more costly measures would be reduced or averted (1).
In the Mediterranean region, the likely reduction of tourism during the hotter summer months may be compensated for by promoting changes in the temporal pattern of seaside tourism, for example by encouraging visitors during the cooler months (2). 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).
Malta will have to contend with increasing water shortages. Malta is already supplied with water by tanker ships, as the island has no sources of fresh water, in the form of streams or rivers, of its own (5).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Malta.
- Republic of Malta, Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment and the University of Malta (2004)
- Amelung and Viner (2006)
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- UNWTO, UNEP and WHO (2008)
- Deutsche Bank Research (2008)