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 - Norway
In Norway, tourism generates 7% of GDP, lower than the average in Europe (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 in Norway - Winter tourism
The snow conditions in many areas have already been deteriorating as the result of higher winter temperatures. The number of days with acceptable snow conditions for cross-country skiing has been more than halved in Nordmarka, a popular skiing area situated just outside Oslo. Continued warming is likely to worsen skiing conditions in Nordmarka and other lowlying recreational areas (1).
Benefits in Norway - Summer tourism
Potential conditions for outdoor, non-winter rural tourism activity have been assessed for the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) (7). This has been done for three future time periods compared with the reference period 1961–1990: 2010–2039 (the 2020s), 2040–2069 (the 2050s), 2070–2099 (the 2080s). The assessment is based on one Global Circulation Model and two climate change scenarios that span a plausible range of speeds and intensities of climate change (medium scenario B1A and high-end scenario A1F). By the 2020s, the main beneficiary of the warming climate appears to be Finland, where the number of good months is projected to rise by one month across most of the country. By the 2050s, the length of good conditions across Denmark, southern Sweden, the Swedish coastline, and southern Finland is projected to visibly increase, up to four or five months of good conditions possible according to the high-end A1F scenario. The same trend prevails into the 2080s. According to this assessment, good conditions fail to materialise for any extended period across Greenland, Iceland or Norway (7).
Overall, Norway, Sweden and Finland are very similar as tourist destinations. In the important summer months, the countries in northern Europe could enjoy growing incomes from tourism in future, due to the longer season. All in all, therefore, these countries are amongst the gainers (5).
Climate change may have a net positive effect on the overall European potential for tourism: up to 59 million bed nights more or some 8% of the total of 777 million nights registered for 2005 in a study on 29 countries (6). Additional potential revenues could be in the order of 4–18 billion euros.
The changes are likely to be unequally spread across Europe, however. The year-round potential for tourism increases most in the northern parts of Europe, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and in Austria. In the southern countries, there is evidence for a net loss of potential, although improvements in the spring and autumn seasons are likely to offset a significant share of the deteriorations in summer. In particular Austria and the UK enjoy significant gains in relative terms, whereas Italy and Spain face the largest losses (6).
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).
In general, the tourist industry has little flexibility for responding dynamically to the impacts of climate change. This is because unlike individual tourists, who can choose among a range of travel destinations and adjust their behaviour based on weather forecasts or other variables, tourism services and the physical infrastructure associated with tourist destinations tend to be fixed in space and time (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 Norway.
- O’Brien (2006)
- West and Hovelsrud (2008)
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- UNWTO, UNEP and WHO (2008)
- Deutsche Bank Research (2008)
- Amelung and Moreno (2012)
- Nicholls and Amelung (2015)