Climate change tops ITB agenda

The ITB Future Day - part of the ITB
Convention Market Trends & Innovations programme for 2007, and
scheduled for Wednesday 7 March - will feature
sessions on a wide range of subjects of topical interest.These will
include an update of world travel trends in co-operation with IPK
International, discussions on the future of travel demand and the ways
in which suppliers will need to adapt to meet the changing needs of
consumers - led by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and The Future
Laboratory - and a panel debate about youth travel and the current and
projected consolidation of the industry, specifically focusing on the
attractiveness of travel and tourism companies for financial investors.

Hosted by Prof Dr Roland Conrady, Dean of the Travel and Transport
Department at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, and
Scientific Director of the ITB Convention, the ITB Future Day’s
highlight will undoubtedly be the planned early afternoon session
(2:15-3:00pm) on Climate Change and the fundamental challenges this
poses for the travel and tourism industry.

 

Panel guests will include Prof Dr Martin Claussen, Managing Director of
the Max Planck Institute for Meteology; Dr Manfred Stock from the
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; and Dr David Viner from
the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

 

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Climate Change has become an increasingly hot topic for discussion over
the past 12 months, with a number of new reports on the subject
highlighting the possible negative impacts it may have on some tourism
destinations and different market segments.  The lack of snow in many
Alpine resorts over the recent Christmas/New Year holiday period drew
attention to the problem, receiving widespread media coverage, since it
resulted in a massive drop in business for many ski resorts.

 

Other predictions for the short to medium term include sharply rising
temperatures, an increasing number of wildfires, rising sea levels,
beach erosion, and a further tightening of water restrictions. And this
is only for Europe.  In other parts of the world, there will also be
more powerful and more frequent typhoons and cyclones, coral reefs will
be destroyed and some low-lying islands - such as in the Maldives -
could simply disappear.

 

In Europe, research by the different organisations that will participate
in the session points to a reversal of the North-South holiday migration
in summer.  Mediterranean resorts are clearly at greatest risk -
holidaymakers have already experienced searing heat, forest fires and
stinging jellyfish, so climate change could drive a shift in demand from
major markets away from the Mediterranean to northern Europe, or to
holidays off-season.

 

Reflecting the growing awareness within the industry and government
bodies of the potential risks posed by climate change, the
Brussels-based European Travel Commission (ETC) earmarked the topic in
its publication Tourism Trends for Europe, 2006 as one of the key trends
to monitor closely over the coming years.

 

“We all know that there are climate changes in our industry. And that
there are climate changes in our environment,” said ETC Director Rob
Franklin, speaking at last November’s Pisa Forum, the annual meeting
between world tourism experts organized by IPK International and
sponsored by ITB Berlin. “But do people really think enough about how
closely these two are linked?” Franklin asked.


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