FT: How will climate change affect the holiday map?

British “Financial Times” article on June 29, original title: How will climate change affect the holiday map?Beaches, clear skies and a temperature around 25°C are the common consensus among people for an ideal holiday destination. Since the 2019 heat wave, though, summer longing has turned into dread. Europe, which is warming at twice the global average, will have its hottest summer on record in 2022, beating the record set in 2021, and that’s before the world enters a hotter El Niño climate cycle. No beach is fun in 40C heat.

On March 22, 2019 local time, in Talisay, Cebu Island, Philippines, affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon, the local rice fields continued to suffer from drought and water shortage. (IC photo)

For many wealthy individuals, the first tangible impact of climate change will be a change in where they vacation. After all, it is much easier than changing the place of residence. Human vacations change the climate (tourist traffic now accounts for about 5% of carbon emissions) and are changed by the climate. As the COVID-19 pandemic gives way to a record era for travel, a new global holiday map will soon emerge. Currently, people’s favorite holiday destinations are dominated by beaches. According to a 2014 study by the University of Cambridge, “Coastal tourism is the largest component of the global tourism industry. More than 60% of Europeans choose beach vacations, and it accounts for more than 80% of US tourism revenue.”

Some beach resorts, like the Maldives and parts of the Caribbean, will disappear beneath the waves as the climate changes. The same is true in the Mediterranean, especially on the coast of Africa, where rising sea levels are eroding beaches and the weather is unbearably hot. Before these places really disappear, we may turn to cooler northern Spain, Normandy in France, England and Scandinavia. Alaska and the Arctic will soon become more permanent summer vacation havens as well. The new climate conditions will go some way towards reversing the historic trend of tourism revenues flowing from rich to poor countries.

Another possible trend is that summer will lose its status as the peak tourist season. First of all, as the weather is getting hotter and hotter, summer will no longer be suitable for traveling. Second, a growing number of childless people are unencumbered by the long summers of school. Third, with the boom in tourism, popular destinations have run out of space during peak travel seasons. The future of beach resorts is expected to focus on spring.

In addition, winter ski holidays may disappear. Now, 40% of the world’s ski tourists go to the Alps, and the lack of snow has caused the closure of hundreds of local ski resorts, and almost all Alpine glaciers may disappear in this century. Meanwhile, the ski season at many U.S. resorts shortened by an average of 34 days between 1982 and 2016. The ski town is already trying to transform itself into a summer hiking and biking destination.

Changes in vacation destinations can be daunting. The main victims will be the millions of tourism workers and the families they support in poor countries. But this upheaval will only be a preview of broader migrations to come. (Author Simon Cooper, translated by Ren Chong)

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