Climate Change and Tourism Essay

  2. Impacts of Climate Change on Tourism and  Global Economy
  1. Loss of biodiversity
  2. Rise in sea levels
  3. Desertification and water scarcity
  4. Melting of snow and glaciers
  1. Climate Change Adaptation Measures
  2. Environmental Sustainability


There is no doubt that tourism is an important economic and social force around the world.

In fact, the quality of the environment and the preservation of the destinations’ natural heritage are critical to the tourism industry in the 21st century. However, the future developments in tourism markets, increased climate variability and climate change may affect the stability of many activities in the field of tourism both locally and globally. As a result, climate change presents a significantly new threat to the tourism industry and the global economy as a whole.

Thus, this paper presents the information on the impacts of climate change on tourism on a global scale, describes a two-way relationship between tourism and climate change, and provides the possible climate change adaptation measures to cope with the potential negative effects of climate change on the tourism industry.

Key words:  climate change, tourism, global economy, negative effects of climate change on the tourism industry.


Background Information on Climate Change and Tourism Industry

No one doubts that tourism positively affects the country’s economy as a whole, providing economic growth and contributing to environmental conservation and protection (Othman and Rosli, 2011), but in fact, no other sector is more dependent on climate change than tourism. “The concern of the tourism community regarding the challenge of climate change has visibly increased over the last years” (“Climate Change and Tourism,” 2007: 4). Despite the fact that climate is a key resource for tourism, the tourism sector is still greatly sensible to the effects of climate change and global warming. Climate changes are most likely the result of the combined actions of many factors: global warming, greenhouse effect and anthropogenic factors. It is believed that human activities are a major cause of climate change, especially the increase in average global surface temperature observed since the mid-twentieth century. As a result, climate change affects many sectors of the economy, including agriculture, forestry, and tourism. In fact, climate change negatively affects the tourism sector, especially in those areas that are sensitive to the potential climate change effects. For example, any significant reductions in the tourism sector greatly affect employment and poverty in many island developing states, which are often heavily dependent on the revenues from tourism for the socio-economic development. Obviously, people will be concerned about the negative impacts of climate change on the tourism industry and the global economy in the future more than today.

Impacts of Climate Change on Tourism and Global Economy

Tourism is developing quite rapidly and is considered to be an important factor in the economic development and intercultural interaction. At the same time, the tourism sector is not only a significant source of greenhouse-gas emissions, but also is severely affected by the consequences of climate change. In fact, the tourism industry is sensitive to climate changes, since the latter determines the length and quality of tourism seasons. Extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, desertification and water scarcity, melting of snow and glaciers, political destabilizations and other effects of climate change do not contribute and would not most likely contribute to the future prosperity of the tourism business.

The loss of biodiversity

Biodiversity, which is of paramount importance for humanity, disappears in a catastrophic pace. A variety of biological diversity refers to all forms of life: plants, animals, microorganisms, their constituent genes and environmental systems in which they are included as separate components. Currently, biodiversity is reduced due to habitat degradation, reduction in the number of individual populations and mass extinction of species. Biological diversity plays a tremendous role for mankind, and thus, has an ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic value for the community. It is important “to human development because of

the goods and services it provides”  (Christ et al, 2003: 2).

In addition, biological resources allow us to meet our needs for food and clothing, as well as housing, medicines and spiritual nourishment. Biodiversity is essential to the fight against poverty: the bulk of the world’s poor live in rural areas and their livelihood and earnings are directly dependent on biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity often reduces the productivity of ecosystems, thereby depleting the natural larder of goods and services, which we constantly use. It weakens the ecosystems’ abilities to withstand various natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts, as well as human-induced stresses in the form of pollution and climate change. Gifts of nature allow to exist a wide variety of industries, such as agriculture, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper industry, construction and waste management, including the tourism sector. As a result, the loss of biodiversity threatens the tourism industry in many ways making the regions less hospitable for tourists.


Rise in sea levels

Catastrophic sea-level rises may be a side effect for various tourism businesses. Rise in sea levels is currently having a devastating effect on the economies of many countries, which relies on tourism. For example, the Maldives – a well-known resort that has raised fears for a rapidly rising sea level, which negatively threatens the tourism industry.  To date, numerous islands were abandoned because of the real threat of global warming. Supporting this position, Morner (2011: 198) points out that the Maldives can soon “…become flooded by a rapidly rising sea level as a function of global warming” and climate change. Hence, rise in sea levels negatively affects the tourism sector, inundating small islands and coastal regions. What is more, it undermines the country’s economy and the global economy as a whole, making people leave in poverty.

Desertification and water scarcity

To start with, desertification occurs on all the continents except Antarctica and affects the lives of millions of people, including a huge number of poor people living in drylands. Desertification in drylands takes place around the world, and its effects are felt at the local, national, regional and global levels. In addition, desertification and water scarcity have a negative impact on tourist areas, thereby making those regions less hospitable for the tourists because of an increased risk of epidemics of various infectious diseases and others outbreaks.

Melting of snow and glaciers

The melting of glaciers is one of the most dangerous natural processes, which is currently taking place. It is not only one of the most dangerous natural processes, the melting of snow and glaciers causes a significant damage to the tourism industry, affecting various winter activities, including mountains and ski resorts. As a result, it may lead to a significant shift in destination demands and it is also one of the major reasons for rising in sea levels. Currently, melting glaciers is of great concern for Glacier Park’s tourism industry. According to Jamison (2010: para. 1),  “A warming climate is changing the face of Glacier National Park, and some now worry the transformation threatens not only downstream ecosystems but also the region’s important tourism economy.” In return, Fitzgerald, a member of the state tourism advisory council states that “tourism brings about $ 3 billion into Montana every year. In the Glacier region, it’s about $1 billion per year. Those are the economic facts” (Jamison, 2010: para. 2). Hence, we can see that the melting of glaciers can cause various damages to the tourism industry, having a negative impact on different winter activities.

Preparing the Tourism Sector for Climate Change

Perhaps travel and tourism is the most well-known industry dependent on the favorable climate conditions. The importance of tourism in the light of the global challenges of climate change and poverty reduction determines the urgent need for series strategies aimed at supporting truly sustainable tourism. In order to ensure the sustainable development of tourism sector, it is necessary to quickly apply effective responses to climate change and to gradually reduce a share of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change adaptation measures

Hence, the development of adaptation measures includes:

  1. Preventing measures, including an action plan and legislation, as well as the elimination of the worst effects of natural disasters such as droughts and flooding;
  2. Improving the resistance or resilience of water systems by improving irrigation, desalination, water balance and dam safety, etc.;
  3. Preparation for extreme weather events through raising people’s awareness, the fair distribution of water resources and joint management;
  4. Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, especially from transportation and accommodation;
  5. Adapting tourist enterprises and destinations to the change of climatic conditions;
  6. Applying the existing and new technologies to improve energy efficiency; and
  7. Providing the financial resources to help poor countries and regions.

Environmental sustainability

The environmental sensitivities stimulate the significant efforts to protect and conserve some natural resources. The above-mentioned impacts of climate change on the tourism industry should be regulated by the international agencies, governments, non-governmental organizations, local communities as well as private tourism sectors. In addition, it is possible to add that currently we can see that people are much more concerned about the environmental issues and other questions concerning the development of tourism, and environmental impacts, which should be taken into consideration in the broader context of sustainable development, paying equal attention to the environmental, social and economic sustainability. Ensuring environmental sustainability is very essential for the perfect functioning of all the tourism sectors.

It consists of four main positions: 1) physical integrity: it is important to maintain and improve the quality of the landscape in the city and in the countryside and avoid the physical and visual degradation of the environment; 2) biological diversity: to support efforts to preserve the natural areas and fauna and to minimize the damage to the environment  since “biodiversity underpins ecosystem functioning”  (Lucas et al, 2014: 196) that is very essential for human well-being; 3) resource efficiency: minimizing rare and non-renewable resources in the development and operation of facilities and services in the field of tourism; and 4) clean environment: to minimize the pollution of air, water and land and the accumulation of wastes by tourism enterprises and visitors.


Thus, taking the above-mentioned information into account, it is possible to draw a conclusion that tourism is one the fastest growing areas within the world’s important industries. Undoubtedly, the quality of the environment and the preservation of the destinations’ natural heritage are essential to the tourism industry. However, the future developments in tourism markets, increased climate variability and climate change may affect the stability of many activities in the field of tourism both at the local and global levels. As a result, climate change presents a significantly new threat to the tourism industry and the global economy as a whole.  As a consequence of those events, the negative impacts of climate change can cause damage to some touristic areas, affecting various winter and summer activities. In fact, climate change is closely associated with many negative effects, ranging from the degradation of land and damage to the environment to the loss of biodiversity and destruction of natural landscapes. Therefore, it is essential to establish a balance between social, economic and environmental interests of present and future generations in order to ensure environmental stability. Conversely, there is no doubt that tourism has a positive impact on the country’s economy, contributing to environmental conservation and protection, but anyway the impacts of climate change on the tourism sectors is still of a great concern with the population. Hence, environmental stability can be achieved only through the goal-oriented partnerships between the private and public sectors. Many aspects of sustainable tourism and the difficulties faced by the industry, requires the strong cooperative efforts to identify and use resources to ensure the long-term economic viability of the sector in the framework of ecologically clean environment and normal social conditions.




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The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 26, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]
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