Europe Weather: How Heatwaves Could Forever Change Summer Holidays Abroad


For decades British holidaymakers have poured into resorts and islands in southern Europe for a relaxing break in the summer sun.

But the scenes of tourists fleeing wildfires in Greece, or trapped indoors unable to enjoy baking beaches in Spain, may give some people second thoughts.

Back-to-back heatwaves brought sweltering temperatures in the 40s to parts of Europe in July, which is expected to break records for the world’s hottest month ever.

Climate change played an “absolutely overwhelming” role in the heat, scientists have concluded – and it is forecast to get worse as the average global temperature keeps rising.

Europe is warming faster than most parts of the world, experts say.

How are holidaymakers reacting?

There is no sign of immediate panic. So far this summer, demand for foreign holidays seems unchanged by the sweltering temperatures, says travel expert Simon Calder.

The travel industry, travel agents and holiday companies say it is business as usual, he says.

“People are still buying last-minute breaks to the Mediterranean. They want some sunshine, they want some heat, and they’re prepared to pay for it,” he adds.

As for the future, holidaymakers appear split on whether the heat will stop them travelling to certain spots.

Becky Mulligan, from Leicester, was evacuated from Rhodes, Greece during wildfires last week. It put her off travelling abroad for a while.

“I always thought the hotter the better. I was completely oblivious to how hot it could be. I wouldn’t go somewhere so hot again,” she says.

She would much rather go abroad in June when it is cooler, but says that the school holidays means her family can only travel when temperatures are hottest.

“I feel stuck between a rock and hard place.

“If you want to go to these countries, but you have to in July or August, how can we keep tourism going?” she asks.

Simon Wheatley, from Cheltenham, was also evacuated from a Rhodes hotel along with his fiancée and three-year-old son. He says he is not put off from going back to Greece in summer.

“We just feel we were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he says, but adds he would rather travel earlier in the year next time.

He says that it is important to remember the crucial economic role of tourism.

“These communities, villages and towns in countries like Greece, Spain, Turkey rely solely on tourists. If you end holidays there, you’ll kill the poor people making money with their bar on the beach,” he says.

Some climate campaigners are frustrated with a lack of urgency over changing travel, given that flying contributes a significant amount to greenhouse gas emissions.

Flying is responsible for 2.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 8% of UK emissions.

Andrew Simms, co-director of the green think tank the New Weather Institute, says: “At first it might seem odd that many might still jump on a climate-polluting flight to holiday in exactly the places where ‘global boiling’, as the UN calls it, will make life harshest, if not intolerable.”

But people receive mixed messages, he says.

“All day, every day, people are exposed to adverts promoting polluting high-carbon products and lifestyles that make them seem normal, when flying to hotspots should trigger an emergency warning,” he says.

Some people are likely to always risk booking a trip during a heatwave. But it is worth remembering that heat can be dangerous and even deadly, says Dr Ellie Murtagh, UK climate adaptation lead at the British Red Cross.

“If you are travelling with older people, pregnant women, young children or someone with a chronic health condition; take extra care to make sure they’re safe and healthy.”

Simon Calder says he hopes there will be a move back to holidays like those before “the jet age of mass air travel began”.

Places like the coast of Belgium, or resorts in the Netherlands and Ireland, could become more popular, as could travel to the UK, he suggests.

“I would imagine that the North Sea and Baltic Beaches are going to get it a bit crowded next summer as a result of what we’ve seen this year,” he adds.

Source : BBC