According to data from the European Tourism Commission (ETC), the number of people planning to travel to the Mediterranean region between June and November this year has fallen by 10% compared to the previous year as many European countries grapple with extreme heat.
Experts say that severe weather conditions are changing the experiences of tourists while visiting Europe. Tourists suffering from heatstroke and fainting has occurred in some places. In the Greek city of Athens, which recently recorded a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, authorities were forced to close the ancient citadel of the Acropolis from 12:00 to 17:00 to protect the health of visitors.
The government of Italy decided to set up cooling stations in Rome, including misting tents and free water near major tourist attractions to prevent problems arising from the heat.
Meanwhile, Spain’s tourism industry has also been greatly impacted by the ongoing heat wave. Due to protracted drought, tourist attractions in Spain have been forced to take measures to save water. Visitors can no longer use the showers on the beach in Lloret de Mar in order to conserve water supplies.
According to expert David Sauri from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), tourists staying at 4-star and 5-star hotels are consuming twice as much water as the average Spaniard. Tourism is one of the main drivers of this European country’s economic growth as it contributes 12% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creates 2.5 million jobs. The current water scarcity will certainly impact its tourism industry.
A recent survey found that 7.6% of travelers said that inclement weather is their biggest concern for their European trips. According to travel companies, the hot weather has not led to the cancellation of many trips. However, if this extreme weather phenomenon persists, the tourism industry will certainly be affected.
Data company ForwardKeys said that there has been a change in the travel trends of visitors from the UK. Instead of choosing to go to Southern Europe, which is recording record high temperatures, visitors are tending to choose cooler locations in Northern Europe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned about the serious consequences of the heat wave raging across the three continents of Asia, Europe and the US. Accordingly, the heat will aggravate existing diseases in each person, especially those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma. This also increases pressure on the global health system, which has been overloaded by the COVID-19 pandemic over recent years.
Director of France’s Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute Robert Vautard emphasised that concurrent heat waves in Europe and other parts of the globe show that many extreme weather events can occur simultaneously, not a single phenomenon; and these phenomena are more and more serious due to climate change. This further demonstrates the urgency of the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The tourism industry in Europe in particular and in the world in general was expected to recover impressively this summer, with travel demand skyrocketing after many years of restrictions because of the pandemic. But severe weather is a factor hindering the recovery and growth of the smokeless industry. The rapid occurrence of heat waves in Europe, a continent long known for its mild climate, is an alarm bell regarding the serious consequences of climate change, urging humanity to act before it is too late.