Extreme Heat and Tourism Today


Cool Summers May Not Return

Following last year, heatwaves are striking the globe again. Research indicates that last month, many areas in Asia experienced catastrophic heatwaves, with temperatures rising by at least 2 degrees due to climate change. This study also revealed that the likelihood of heatwaves occurring due to climate change has increased 30-fold.

India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Laos all recorded high temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius in April, leading to fatalities, melting roads, and hospitalizations in some countries.

Currently, abnormal temperatures are being recorded worldwide, and heatwaves, or prolonged periods of heat, are significantly impacting society, including an increase in heat-related deaths. Heatwaves are considered one of the most dangerous natural disasters, but their death tolls and destruction are not always immediately apparent, which is why they have not been as feared until now. According to WHO, from 1998 to 2017, heatwaves caused the deaths of over 166,000 people, with more than half of those deaths occurring during the 2003 European heatwave.

As climate change increases the population exposed to heat, this summer also requires caution.

Summer is also the travel season, and tourist destinations are being forced to respond to heatwaves. In Europe, Italy issued emergency warnings last month for 16 cities, including Rome, Bologna, and Florence, due to anticipated record high temperatures. Greece’s major tourist attraction, the Acropolis in Athens, was closed during the hottest hours for three consecutive days. Even in Iraq, where scorching summers are common, the Tigris River is shrinking, depriving locals of recreation.

How will our summer vacations change as temperatures continue to rise? This issue will explore the impacts of heatwaves on tourism, region by region.

Record heat waves sweep the world, from U.S. to Japan via Europe (The Japan Times)

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Ensuring Safety for Travelers

This summer, Southern European countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain have been hit by intense heat exceeding 40°C, with reports of tourists collapsing. According to The Guardian’s article, although travel costs have soared, the popularity of Northern European destinations, such as Denmark, is increasing. Amidst this, Rome’s local authorities are encouraging the use of an app to locate drinking fountains called Nasoni, promoting safety for tourists.

Tourists and locals struggle as heatwave grips Italy (CGTN)

Seeking World Heat Records

Tourists are flocking to America’s hottest spot, Death Valley National Park, hoping to experience a moment hotter than the world record of 56.7°C recorded there in 1913. However, mobile phone signals are scarce throughout most of the park, and cars often break down due to the heat. In such a natural environment, adequate preparation for each traveler is crucial.

Extreme heat tourism in Death Valley: ‘It’s too much, it’s just unbearable!’ (EL PAIS)

Heatwave Hits Laos

This year, Laos has been hit by a record heatwave, with Luang Prabang reaching a historic high of 43.5°C in May. Particularly, the tourism industry, which accounts for over 12% of the national GDP, is expected to suffer a significant decline in tourist numbers. However, despite the severity, Laos has yet to implement urban planning measures to counteract the situation. Comprehensive adaptation to heatwaves will be necessary to save the tourism industry.

Heat wave blasts Southeast Asia – a likely pattern for the future (RADIO FREE ASIA)

African Tourism and Preparing for Overtourism

While Africa is affected by global warming, it remains a popular destination for travelers seeking different climates, nature, and cultures. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, warning and response systems are still catching up. As one of the regions most affected by climate change, the importance of managing overtourism will increasingly become crucial.


Antarctic Tourism Threatening the Region

Over 100,000 people visited Antarctica for tourism purposes in 2022-23, and this number is continuing to rise. However, environmental pollution from ships used in Antarctic tourism is becoming a concern. Research suggests that exhaust from tourist ships in the Antarctic Peninsula could cause up to 23mm of surface snow to melt each summer. In response, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is considering limiting tourists and allocating part of the revenue for environmental conservation.

 Antarctic tourism is booming – but can the continent cope? (The Guardian)