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Climate Research

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CR 31:109-120 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/cr031109

Impacts of short-term climate variability in the UK on demand for domestic and international tourism

M. D. Agnew1,*, J. P. Palutikof2

1School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
2Hadley Centre, Met Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK

ABSTRACT: The sensitivity of UK tourism to climate variability (on intra- and inter-annual scales) was investigated using empirical statistical models. A set of climate indices (mean monthly and annual temperature, rainfall and sunshine) describes present day variability in climate, while tourism demand is described by a dataset comprising domestic (monthly numbers of tourist nights) and international (annual numbers of trips abroad) tourist flows. An understanding of climate sensitivity based on real data then provided a basis for the examination of potential effects of climate change on the economically important tourism sector. Outbound flows of tourists are more responsive to climate variability of the preceding year, whereas domestic tourism is more responsive to variability within the year of travel. For outward tourism, wetter- and duller-than-average conditions in the year previous to travel seem to encourage more trips abroad. Drier- and warmer-than-average conditions increase same-month domestic trips, but a change in the direction of the association in subsequent months is indicative of inelasticity in the system. The anomalously warm year of 1995 in the UK was used to represent the potential impact of climate change. The results suggest that the generally warmer and drier conditions of 1995 benefited the UK domestic tourist industry by an estimated £309 million, relative to mean climate.

KEY WORDS: Tourism · Climate impacts · Regression analysis

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