The heatwave changes the preferences of tourists for summer destinations


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Rising summer temperatures in southern Europe could lead to a long-term change in tourists’ habits. More and more people are choosing cooler destinations or taking vacations in the spring or fall to avoid the extreme heat, writes Reuters.

Data published by the European Tourism Commission (ETC) shows that the number of people hoping to travel between June and November in the Mediterranean region has already fallen by 10% compared to last year, when the heat wave led to drought and forest fires. There is an increase in interest for destinations such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland and Bulgaria.

“We anticipate that in the future unpredictable weather conditions will have a greater impact on the choices made by travelers in Europe“, said Miguel Sanz, head of CET.

The organization’s report shows that 7.6% of travelers now see extreme weather phenomena as a significant cause of concern for travel between June and November.

Among them is Anita Elshoy and her husband, who this month returned home to Norway from their favorite holiday destination – Vasanello – a town north of Rome, a week earlier than planned as temperatures reached 35 degrees Celsius.

“I had headaches, bone pain, and my fingers swelled up and I started to feel dizzy. We should have stayed for two weeks, but we couldn’t last, because of the heat,” explained Elshoy. For Elshoy, summers in southern Europe could be a thing of the past. She said she was considering vacationing in Norway and added: “I don’t want to spend my vacation in a place where I get dizzy and have headaches again.”

The British in particular made fewer holiday reservations at home and more in the Mediterranean region, often several months in advance, explained Sean Tipton, from ABTA. But the balance could change due to heat waves. Scientists have long warned that climate change, caused by CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, will make extreme weather events more frequent. Meteorologists estimate that in the coming week temperatures could exceed the current European record of 48.8 degrees Celsius, recorded in Sicily in August 2021, raising fears that there will be a repeat of last year’s heat-related deaths.

In recent weeks, the press in Europe wrote about tourists who felt sick on the beaches of Italy or were taken by ambulance from the Acropolis in Athens. “Our recent research indicates a decline in the number of people interested in traveling in the peak month of August, while many Europeans are considering autumn holidays,” said Sanz.

Tourists in Rome told Reuters they would think twice about making a reservation in the Italian capital again because of the high temperatures. It would be bad news for Italy’s economy, which relies on tourism revenues obtained especially in the summer.

“I would come when it’s cooler, only in June or April,” said Dalphna Niebuhr, a tourist from the US who was in Rome this week with her husband. She complained that her first visit to the Italian capital was “miserable” because of the heat.

This year, Italy’s Environment Ministry warned that in future foreign tourists may prefer to travel more in spring and autumn and choose cooler destinations. Tourism will be affected because Italian tourists will also go to cooler destinations, the Ministry of the Environment claims. Some hope that there will not be a decrease in the number, but a change in tourist traffic.

In Greece, where foreign tourist arrivals by air increased by 87.5% between January and March 2023, summer overcrowding occurred in popular spots such as the island of Mykonos. Increased tourism in the winter, spring and autumn months could alleviate the problem and slow foreign tourist arrivals in the summer, according to Greece’s Environment Ministry.

In Spain, high demand is expected for holidays in coastal destinations and islands, where summer temperatures are not so high. The Spaniards Daniel Otero and Rebeca Vazquez, who are visiting Bilbao, say that next year they could schedule their vacation in June, because it will not be so hot.

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