The heat is on – European summer holidays in jeopardy

Quite remarkable that the tourism industry has never build an enormous statue for it. Because we are indebted enormously to this ít’. Something we have to be extremely grateful for, and something that makes travelling and going on holiday so much better. For what do you think? The sun of course!

This star – in a literal and figurative sense – is the most important pillar of the holiday industry. It shares its warmth and light with us for free, and the tourism industry has turned it into a billion dollar industry. Selling the sun has become the norm. Commercials have been telling people that the sun makes you happy; that it stimulates the production of vitamin D, and even that people will look prettier when they have a little tan. Since we began going on holidays, sunrays have been the greatest and most effective marketing tool ever.

But times are changing – and so is our our climate! This summer Europe saw some perfect examples. Hailstones as large as golf balls, and temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius (1o5 Fahrenheit) in the Mediterranean Sea destinations like Spain, Turkey and Greece. With a temperature between 25 and 30 °C most tourists feel comfortable, but when the temperature rises to 40 °C or over , it just become too hot and uncomfortable for many tourists.

Do you think it likely that in 20 years’ time the Mediterranean may become a no-go holiday destination? Because it is basically too hot in the summer months. According to climate experts this scenario is most certainly not inconceivable. With July and August being the main holiday season in Europe, it is not unlikely that we may see a drastic change in summer holidays no longer being taken in Southern Europe but a shift towards cooler Central and Northern Europe countries. Scandinavia for example may be in for a great influx of tourists in the summer season as may be the Dutch North Sea coast…  Although my forecast is long term, I suspect that it would be good idea for national tourist boards and Ministries of Tourism in Southern Europe to start tackling this issue in their Long-term Marketing plans.

Another option to tackle this impending shift in holiday patterns is the topic of obligatory summer school holidays which now forces families to go on holiday in July or August. Maybe we should launch a new campaign for more staggered holidays throughout the year because the present system also means prices go up in the peak travel season.

Is the sun the most powerful marketing tool for the travel sector, I do predict an increasing role for two other trends… fresh air and silence. Especially in industrialised areas noise and pollution are becoming everyday nuisances and I am convinced there will be a growing demand for silence-is-golden holidays and destinations where one breathes fresh air. Noise pollution may have serious implications for people’s health as does the quality of the air we breathe in. I live in the Dutch city of The Hague where the air that fills my lungs is far from clean. A great marketing opportunity for destinations that have the cleanest air in the world!

A breath of fresh air. Who would have ever thought that the sun would get competitors as the ultimate holiday marketing tool.