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Global warming more challenge than opportunity for British tourism

A debate entitled `Global Warming: The Challenge for British Tourism` was launched by The Tourism Society with the Chairman, Roger Heape FTS, opening the event with an assault on gloom…

A debate entitled `Global Warming: The Challenge for British Tourism` was launched by The Tourism Society with the Chairman, Roger Heape FTS, opening the event with an assault on gloom  mongering, suggesting that global warming was good news all the way for British tourism.

Exploring the science, Kay Johnstone of UK Climate Impacts Programme presented the scenarios for temperature. If no action is taken to reduce from the “business as usual” approach, then a further sharper rise temperature would follow after 2040. The overall trend is for sunnier, hotter and drier summers, and milder wetter winters producing a longer growing season. A most striking map showed optimum conditions for tourist visitors shifting north to encompass the UK and Scandinavia. Maybe the Baltic will be the new Mediterranean?

Sandie Dawe FTS of VisitBritain accepted that warming could be positive news for domestic tourism. However she was greatly concerned over the `demonisation` of aviation, pointing out that 74% of inbound visitors arrived by air and that livestock in the UK generates more greenhouse gasses than transport. Research showed that UK consumers were confused about what to do, and needed simple advice to help them reduce their “emissions” footprint. However, overall attitudes were still very strongly in favour of holidaying.

Dermot Blastland of First Choice Holidays categorically ruled out Bognor replacing Benidorm. Outbound travel continued to grow as the older more affluent market expanded and travelled further, seeking adventure and experiences. Price was a key factor in travel decisions and many destinations, e.g. currently USA at $2 to the £ offered great value. Poor transport links were also an inhibitor to domestic travel. First Choice was taking a wide range of measures to reduce and offset the carbon emissions of both its planes and hotels; aiming for carbon neutrality.

Peter Hampson FTS of the British Resorts and Destinations Association looked carefully at the climatic factors influencing use of resorts. He concluded that more sunshine was the key ingredient. If this occurred then no doubt demand would rise for British resorts. However he was very concerned as to whether sufficient accommodation capacity existed to service this demand and called for a detailed audit to establish current capacity levels. A further constraint was transport capacity in areas such as South West England where 80% of visitors arrived by car where there was the possibility of gridlock if demand rose substantially.

The final speaker, John Lee, Chairman of ALVA, reviewed the balance of benefits and problems for major attractions from a hotter UK. The major benefits were a longer season and visiting hours, but a siesta time might have to be introduced to avoid the midday sun! On balance however the problems were likely to offset the benefits. High costs could occur from damage to infrastructure through higher winds, heavier rain storms, and river and coastal flooding. In the natural environment increased fire risk to heath and woodland posed a threat to rural infrastructure. Attractions in cities such as museums could suffer as the hot cities became too uncomfortable for visitors.

During the open forum, questions and discussion ranged over accommodation shortage, transport gridlock, particularly inimical to weekend breaks, a joined up industry approach to sustainability, aviation taxation, and increased demand for outdoor activities.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.