Updated on Friday, September 24, 2021 – 01:43
The report Impacts and risks derived from climate change in Spain, published by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, lists the risks over a 30-year horizon and the impact that a rise in temperatures will have on sun and beach destinations, mountain destinations and, in general, on the entire transport infrastructure.
Picture of an empty palm beach
Last January the storm Filomena block for hours the Barajas airport and caused delays and air traffic problems for days. Due to the restrictions derived from the pandemic, the volume of passengers in this aerodrome, one of the main in the world, was minimal and so was tourism in the city. In a January of a normal year the collapse would have been monumental.
This August, It was not the cold, but the heat, what caused Greece, another of the main sun and beach destinations, experienced an unprecedented heat wave in half a century, with temperatures close to 50 degrees. This caused a wave of fires and one of the most striking scenes was that of thousands of tourists who were being evacuated by ferries in the middle of the night, surrounded by flames.
These are only some examples that illustrate the impact that these climatic fluctuations, abnormal so far, are taking the closest tourism. The forecast is that they will go to more than a few decades here, changing tourism, vacation destinations, the activities we do in that period and even the times of tourism itself.
The report Impacts and risks derived from climate change in Spain, published by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, lists the risks over a 30-year horizon and the impact that a rise in temperatures will have on sun and beach destinations, mountain destinations and, in general, on the entire transport infrastructure. Also in our vacation habits.
Sea without beaches
According to this study, the beaches as we know them today will change. They will be cut because the sea level and the waves increase. Also the temperature of the same, with the “possible incidence in the diving activities”, as well as in the aquatic activities that are made in the rivers, like the canoe.
Winter tourism will also be affected. Spanish stations will have less snow and those below 2,000 meters could disappear for this reason or reconvert to other modalities, according to the report. Counting all the stations in the Pyrenees (Spain and France), a four-degree warming scenario would leave only 7% of the stations viable.
The warming will also change the holiday periods. In summer it will be too hot and the weather may be better in autumn and spring, which will make the high season of the Spanish sun and beach destinations move away from the traditional months, July and August.
Tourists, both national and international, will choose to take refuge in the northern coastal areas, to escape the heat, and also in the inland areas. Flows will be altered, since tourists from northern Europe, which are now our main source markets, will stop coming because they will have better weather conditions in their territory and we will be the ones who travel to these countries in summer. We will change, in this future scenario, Benidorm for Gijn, Cdiz for the Norwegian fjords.
According to the different studies used within the report, foreign visitors will be reduced by 20% in 2080 with respect to 2004 values and by the end of the century more than 30% of the territory would have unfavorable conditions for the practice of tourism in summer in the areas of sun and sand, and more optimal in the north. Another study contemplates that Mediterranean cities will be the hardest hit, since the predisposition of tourists to visit these destinations will decrease with an increase of one degree in the annual scale of temperatures.
The impact on infrastructure also has its consequences on tourism: roadblocks or problems at airports, as we saw in the case of Filomena, since planes cannot take off or land. The report raises, for example, the possibility of damage and erosion in bridges and roads due to the increase in the intensity of the short but extreme rains.
The same in the case of trains. Also the possibility of fires due to heat waves and droughts and torrential rains that could affect rail traffic, causing delays and cancellations. Airports may also find that increased wind and fog could affect runway operations.
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