Heatwaves across Europe could shift tourists northward, reshuffle holiday dates

A man refreshes at a fountain in Rome, Monday, July 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The prolonged extreme heat in Southern Europe, which has been making international headlines, could bring a lasting change in holiday patterns. According to industry experts, more and more people are choosing to stay in cooler climates instead of their usual destinations, or to switch from summer to spring and autumn.

According to the European Travel Commission (ETC), which is a group of national tourism organizations, the number of people planning to holiday in the Mediterranean between June and November, where they were unable to endure the heat after Cerberus, followed by the recent heatwave Charon, has already fallen by 10 percent compared to last year.

However, places with more pleasant climates such as the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Bulgaria reported a sharp increase in the number of visitors.

“Unpredictable weather will have a greater impact on the choice of European destinations for tourists in the future,” ETC President Miguel Sanz told Reuters.

According to the organization’s data, 7.6 percent of travelers already consider extreme weather to be one of the main concerns when it comes to timing their holiday. Yet, despite years of coronavirus outbreaks and restrictions, most people are not giving up their holidays. They remain undeterred by the heatwaves, droughts and forest fires that have caused so many problems in much of Europe last year, with the heatwave causing 61,000 deaths across the continent.

Heat records are being broken in the United States, shelters have been opened in China due to extreme heat, and at least 40 people have died in South Korea due to rain and flooding.

Pictures of tourists being evacuated by helicopter from Italian beaches and by ambulance from the Acropolis in Athens due to record-breaking heat have flooded the European press and are already affecting holiday demand in Southern Europe.

“Our latest research shows a fall in the number of people planning to travel in August, the peak season, and an increase in those postponing their trip until autumn,” confirmed Sanz.

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