Impact of Climate Change on Tourism

Impact of Climate Change on Tourism

Samreen Siddiqui (Oregon State University, USA) and Muhammad Imran (University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5843-9.ch004
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Climate change is an influencing phenomenon in present global perspective having a wide range of impacts at different levels within the society and industries. This chapter introduces the climate change basics and its major impacts on the global environment. Further, it describes the tourism industry and identifies its relationship with climate change. Scientists take different approaches to deal with climate indices and their application to identify the impact of climate change on the tourism industry. This chapter classifies the tourism industry into different industry type based on the regional characteristics links with the geographical locations. Climate effects have been discussed with different case studies and regions. Then the chapter has been concluded with the major overall impact of climate change in terms of temperature rise, sea level rise (SLR), change in precipitation and extreme events in some cases, on the tourism industry, and next steps to be taken towards sustainable tourism industry.
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Climate change is causing several changes in temperature which in turn affects people socially and economically. Soon after the industrial revolution, Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas has shown a sharp increasing trend, compared to the pre-industrial era. This increased CO2is caused by a global greenhouse phenomenon. The shift in climate pattern and changing global temperature in response to the greenhouse phenomenon in general is termed as climate change. This irreversible phenomenon is causing glacier melting of Greenland, Greater Himalayas region and other places around the world (Blunier and Brook, 2001; Beniston 2003). Human-induced changes to the environment started causing major socio-economic issues at the industrial level, catching major attention around the globe (Figure 1). Tourism is a major industry that gets affected by climate change. Climate change can have a direct and indirect impact on tourism that has been discussed in detail.

Figure 1.

Climate change impacts on various biological physical processes


The ease of travel and movement around different parts of the world makes tourism one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, involving 1186 million international tourists in 2015.This was an increase of 4.6% over the previous year, and is expected to increase by 3.3% between 2010 and 2030, to reach 1.8 billion and generate USD 1075 billion (UNTWO, 2016). It is projected that travel and tourism can surpass retail and public services by contributing an average of 2.5 to 4% of total employment by 2027 (WTTC, 2017).The tourism industry can be classified into the various groups, depending upon the physical and biological environmental features. Tourism has been classified as Mountain and Snow tourism; Forest and Biodiversity tourism; Cities and Urban Centre tourism; and Ocean and Sea life tourism based on geographical location and physical characteristic.



The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2014) defines climate change as “Any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity”. Globally, observed major impacts of climate change are:

  • Since 1951, increased precipitation events within mid-latitude areas of the Northern hemisphere.

  • Ocean uptake of CO2has increased since the industrial era, resulting in a decreased pH of seawater by 0.1, and a corresponding increase in acidity by 26%.

  • Greenland and the Arctic ice sheet were observed to be losing ice at a faster rate from 1992 to 2001 than previously recorded, and the melting rate has continued to increase drastically after 2002.

  • The annual mean arctic sea ice extent decreased at a rate of 3.5-4.1% per decade, since 1979.

  • Global mean sea level rose by 0.19 (0.17 to 0.21) m from 1901 to 2010.

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