Study assesses the impact of climate change on the digital reputation of European tourist destinations

15th March 2024
Study assesses the impact of climate change on the digital reputation of European tourist destinations

The European Travel Commission has conducted a study to analyse how climate change affects social media users’ opinions of tourist destinations. The conclusions will help predict future trends in the tourism market.

The study, Climate Change & Tourism, was carried out in collaboration with ETC and MMGY TCI Research, a leading data-based solution provider for destination marketing organisations (DMO), with the goal of exploring the impact of discussions on climate change on the reputation of European tourist destinations in 2023.

Using advanced social listening techniques and analysing written sustainability reviews, the study investigated the prevalence of climate change-related conversations as part of general travel discussions. It also identified common themes and the tone of consumers’ concerns in relation to this topic.

Although it’s difficult to predict future travel patterns in light of climate change, it is predicted that there may be long-term changes in the seasonal demand for certain destinations and changes in the specific activities offered at these destinations.

One of the conclusions of the report is that Greece, Italy, and Spain were most affected in terms of polarity by the topic of climate change within travel in 2023. Being also some of the warmest and most-visited European destinations during summer, stories on the effects of climate change focusing on them were plentiful.

Different cases of negative and positive prestige

Generally speaking, certain themes are recurring negative reputation factors. For starters, the study noted a Europe-wide concern about a growing water crisis as winter droughts worsen.

Some sites are also included in lists of destinations not to visit due to climate change, with the paradigmatic example of a 10% reduction in British tourists’ plans to visit the Mediterranean from June to November 2023.

Various comments are more warnings about uncomfortable heat in southern Europe, as well as cancellations due to heat waves and an increase in messages about new travel insurance policies that offer the possibility of travellers getting their money back if the temperature exceeds 40 degrees.

On the other hand, there has also been an increase in positive comments that see certain destinations as a way to beat the heat, with a growing interest in northern and Scandinavian countries.

There also appears to be renewed interest in European railways, and urban agriculture and destination-integrated food exchanges in Europe are on the rise as holistic activities.

Notable initiatives include the transformation of the Seine into a swimmable river in Paris, as well as various innovative and sustainable projects that seek to improve visitor mobility, optimise water consumption, maintain beach water quality and increase consumption of locally-sourced products.

In conclusion, the topic of climate change within travel-related conversations about Europe were generally more negative but at times it was also a strong driver of positive reputation. Overall, it was a more polarised topic than general travel conversations.

The full report can be downloaded here.