Caixabank shows that the hottest areas in Spain will have a slower growth in tourist spending between the high periods of 2019 and 2023. They also see changes in the pattern of tourist spending during heat waves. To do this, the entity uses card payment data at its POS terminals.
According to the economist, David Cesar Heymann, climate change represents a major challenge for the tourism sector. His article warns of the need for the sector to consider climate risk and prepare for more extreme temperatures.
The study “Regional impact of climate change on tourism demand in Europe” by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, from July 2023, includes estimates of the vulnerability of tourism to climate change in Europe. Spain has many areas among the most vulnerable in the worst scenarios. According to these forecasts, in an extreme scenario where a temperature increase of four degrees occurs, Murcia and the Balearic Islands, for example, will receive fewer tourists (5%) throughout the year.
DEGREES AND FALLS
In the case of an increase of three and four degrees, we can observe a decrease in tourist demand of 1.6% and 3.1%, respectively. However, for July and August, the JRC foresees a decrease in tourist demand of almost 10% with an increase of three degrees and more than 15% with four degrees
The increase in tourist spending and average summer temperatures in 2023 offers a disconnect. Spending is highest in the least hot areas. In particular, tourist spending increased by 45% in localities that recorded a lower average temperature (below 17 degrees). On the other hand, spending increased by 25%-35% in localities with higher average temperatures (above 23 degrees).
If the evolution of tourist spending is analyzed according to the type of municipality (coastal, urban, or rural), and according to the average temperature in summer 2023, the greatest increase in spending depending on the temperature can be seen on the coast. Between the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2023, spending increased by about 45% in coastal cities with an average temperature below 21 degrees, while in warmer coastal cities, spending increased by 35% on average, a difference of 10 points.
For the same location, each degree that the average daily temperature deviates in July and August 2022 and 2023 relative to the historical average is associated with a 0.27% decrease in tourist spending between 12 pm and 5 pm, as well as an increase of 0.14% between 10 pm and 7 am In other time slots, no significant differences were observed. On days of extreme temperature, the aggregate expenditure decreased (-0.12% for each degree) and was distributed to the least hot hours.
In the composition of spending, in the same municipality, heat waves are associated with lower spending on discretionary consumption, with a reduction of 0.16% in restaurants for each degree above the historical average, and 0.34% in entertainment. Supermarkets also fell by 0.13%. The sector that benefits from higher temperatures is pharmacies, which pay 0.06% more for each degree above the historical average.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TOURISM IN SPAIN
In conclusion, the tourism sector needs to change and invest in adaptation strategies such as the development of climate-resilient infrastructure, changing tourism experiences to adapt to the changing preferences of tourists, and ensuring tourist comfort while promoting sustainable practices that help reduce contribution of the tourism sector. in global warming.
Due to the significant impact of rising temperatures on coastal regions, specific strategies such as promoting water activities during the hottest parts of the day, improving beach facilities, and promoting activities at night will reduce the heat. For rural areas, promoting activities early in the morning or at night, and diversifying the offer to include more content options, will maintain tourist interest and spending.
Travel agencies, tour operators, and employers will celebrate the consolidation of the Fitur sector
Urban destinations, despite their strength, should not be complacent either. Improving green spaces, offering more nighttime activities, and informing tourists about the options available in warmer seasons will improve the overall experience.