The tourist industry in Europe is expected to continue to grow, in part as
a result of higher incomes and more leisure time. Predominant tourist flows
presently are from north to south; at present these flows help to transfer capital.
Changes in recreational habits and preferences will lead to opportunities for
tourist investment in new areas, but existing major tourist flows to the Mediterranean
might be weakened if summer heat waves increase in frequency or if prolonged
droughts result in water supply problems and forest fires. Giles and Perry (1998)
have shown that summers as good as that of 1995 in northern Europe can lead
to a drop in the numbers of outbound tourists from countries such as the UK
to traditional Mediterranean sun destinations.
Changing demographic patterns—particularly an aging, wealthy population—may
lead to an increase in winter and shoulder season tourism to Mediterranean resorts
and expansion of retirement to attractive areas, particularly coasts. “Health
tourism” to spas and mountains is likely to increase in Europe. In northern
Europe, short breaks are likely to be taken over a longer season as temperatures
The coastal zone is the primary tourist resource of Europe, and associated
tourist infrastructure is at risk from sea-level rise, including unique tourist
attractions such as the city of Venice (Perry, 1999). Beaches, wetlands, and
estuaries also are tourist resources that are at risk. Already, many tourist
amenities, such as coastal golf courses and hotels, require protection. The
need to maintain coastal amenity values, as well as protect infrastructure,
is an important factor that is encouraging a shift from hard, rigid defenses
to softer approaches, including sediment management and nourishment (Penning-Rowsell
et al., 1992; Hamm et al., 1998).
Heat stress and poor urban air quality may render cities undesirable locations
in summer, with more tourist traffic to the country and the coast. Outdoor recreational
spending is likely to increase.
Mountainous zones are used extensively for recreation and are the main sites
of the European winter sports industry, which is based on snow resources that
are vulnerable to climate change. Mohnl (1996) has shown that there is a statistically
significant trend in snow-cover reduction in the Alps over recent years. Abegg
and Froesch (1994) have suggested that assuming a 3°C rise in mean temperatures,
the snow line in winter will rise by 300 m in the central Alps, the first snowfall
of the season will be delayed, and below an altitude of 1,200 m there will not
be continuous winter snow cover. As the season contracts, there will be a need
to bolster winter tourism with increased use of artificial snow and more alternatives
to outdoor skiing. In Scotland, the skiing industry is likely to experience
more frequent snow-deficient winters, with adverse impacts on the financial
viability of the industry.
Jaagus (1997) analyzed the impact of climate change on the snow-cover pattern
in Estonia, where snow cover is important for winter sports and tourism. Indications
are that a considerable drop in snow-cover duration will take place on islands
and in the coastal region of west Estonia.
Migration caused by soil degradation is a very important issue in the Mediterranean
region, the southern part of which is mostly arid and vulnerable to climate
change. With perhaps 24% of total drylands in Africa in the process of desertification
and 0.3% of the African population permanently displaced largely as a result
of environmental degradation (LeHouerou, 1992), consequent in-migration pressures
on neighboring regions such as southern Europe can be substantial (Goria, 1999).