Sun, sand and too much sizzle – a Mediterranean meltdown could mean tourist trauma

Posted on 01 July 2005

According to a report commissioned by WWF, the summer tourist trade in the Mediterranean is expected to suffer as a result of anticpated higher temperatures in the region.
Rome, Italy – Global warming could mean hard times ahead for the Mediterranean, including its all important tourism industry, according to a report commissioned by WWF.

Tourists are set to sizzle in hotter summer temperatures and may well stay in cooler countries as the region's climate becomes hotter and more variable. 
 
The Mediterranean coastline is the world’s most popular tourist destination, attracting 30 per cent of the world’s tourists and tourism revenue. But the report says that a 2°C rise in global temperatures would mean more frequent heat waves and droughts, more forest fires, and problems for freshwater and agriculture. All these factors, directly and indirectly, discourage summer holidays in the Mediterranean. 
 
“If temperatures were to continue to rise by 2°C and higher, this would be bad news for the Mediterranean," said Dr Tina Tin, the report's scientific coordinator.
 
“A 2°C warming scenario would have very negative consequences for the future of the tourism industry in the region – heat waves and forest fires would make families go elsewhere for their summer holidays.” 
 
According to WWF, if climate change is not curbed, the region could expect searing temperatures with up to six weeks more of extreme heat days (defined as plus 35°C) per year. The increased number of hotter days would translate into a higher fire risk, with implications for the safety of tourists visiting the region. The southern part of the Mediterranean would be at risk of forest fires practically all year round and nearly everywhere else in the region the risk of fire would be expected to extend by up to six weeks. 
 
WWF is also worried by the outlook for the agricultural sector, where higher temperatures and longer droughts could mean less food produced by farms in the region. As temperatures warm up and summer rain diminishes, crops depending on rain would be most severely affected, with yields expected to decline by up to 40 per cent. 
 
“To avoid irreparable damage to the economies of the Mediterranean we must act now to slow the increase in global temperature,” said Jennifer Morgan, head of WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme.

“As the world's political leaders meet at the G8 in Scotland next week, they need to come up with clear, targeted, and accountable commitments and an action plan to reduce emissions and prevent this dangerous climate change from happening." 
  
WWF is calling on heads of states meeting at the G8 summit in Scotland to commit to reductions in CO2, and increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy to curb global warming and keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C. 
 
For further information:
Martin Hiller, Communications Manager
WWF Global Climate Change Programme
Tel: +41 22 364 9019
E-mail: mhiller@wwfint.org

Mariagrazia Midulla, Head of Campaigns
WWF-Italy
Tel: +39 06 84497375
E-mail m.midulla@wwf.it 

Brian Thomson, Press Officer
WWF International
Tel: +41 22 364 9562
E-mail: bthomson@wwfint.org
Tourists on Turkey's Cirali beach, on the Mediterranean Sea, one of the few remaining nesting sites for the loggerhead turtles.
© WWF / Michel Gunther