LIFE Research Area

Climate Change and Tourism

In many regions, tourism represents a central economic sector with a high level of direct and indirect value creation. At the same time, tourism is also one of the most weather- and climate-sensitive sectors.

Credit: iStock/imantsu

The forms of tourism on offer in any region depend on  the region's specific strengths. As a result of climate change, such strengths are subject to a process of adaptation. Only those actors who address this issue early enough, and act accordingly, are in a position to take advantage of potential opportunities and capable of mastering the related challenges.

We focus our research activities in the field of climate change and tourism on:

  • the systematic analysis and modelling of weather and climate sensitivity at both the regional and company level (e.g. entailing the calculation of specific climate risk).
  • the creation of effective packages of measures to deal with climate risk mitigation and adaptation in order to increase regional and company resilience.
  • the provision of customised climate services to support the ongoing monitoring of both short-term and long-term tourist operations and policies, as well as the assessment of climate-related investment projects.

The toolbox WEDDA®, developed by LIFE, offers location-based weather risk analyses, the creation of weather-adjusted key performance indicators, as well as ongoing demand forecasts (relating to turnover, visitors, etc.). The toolbox extension WEDDA-4CPI (WEDDA for climate proof investment) helps to evaluate how 'climate proof' investments are.

Tourism Research 

LIFE has established a focus on tourism in recent years in order to investigate the sector's short-, medium- and long-term perspectives. By employing  a set of qualitative and quantitative methods, supported by high-resolution socio-economic data, we can generate scenarios for tourism and thus  identify potential areas of development and risk.

Important activities of LIFE in this field are thus:

  • Modelling of climate impacts
  • Quantification of weather dependencies in the field of tourism

With a view to creating a global, holistic perspective, different levels of analysis are combined in an interdisciplinary research approach. This entails, for example, addressing questions relating to tourism demand and supply, availability of labour, mobility, administration and politics, nature and the environment, together with the modelling of climate change impacts.

Climate Change Impacts and Risks

LIFE has developed a set of risk measures based on financial and actuarial methods for the quantitative assessment of climate change impacts and risks. Weather and climate-induced risks are quantified with the help of weather value at risk (VaR), which indicates the amount of weather- or climate-related damage or loss to be expected, within a certain period, with respect to a predefined probability of occurrence. Statistical and mathematical dependency modelling is employed in order to identify various interdependencies. Subsequently, this knowledge is then used as a foundation in establishing a cost-effective risk management system.

Mobility, Leisure Time and Tourism

Mobility behaviour in the field of leisure activities and tourism is still not included in standard approaches to transport modelling.

As part of its agent-based transport modelling, LIFE engages in detailed research on this sub-sector in order to be able to improve mobility strategies and concepts, especially for tourism regions.

Ski Tourism and Albedo

Winter tourism is an important economic sector, especially for the Alpine countries of Europe. It is assumed that ongoing climate change will lead to a further increase in temperature in the future, particularly in the Alps and during the winter months. As a result, the number of days with natural snow cover may continue to decrease, thus having a negative impact on ski tourism. However, the energy balance of our Earth is not only influenced by the sun and the changing concentration of greenhouse gases, but also by the changing reflectance of the Earth's surface itself.


What is Albedo?

The so-called albedo of a surface measures the extent to which it directly reflects the sun's light. Changes in the colour or brightness of a land surface, as a result of changes in land use, can thus have a positive (cooling) or negative (warming) effect on climate change.

A comparison of grassland areas and snow-covered areas (even where snow coverage is the result of technical snow produced predominantly with renewable electricity) shows that the albedo effect could have a "positive" effect on the climate impact of such areas and could thus counteract the generally negative climate impacts of ski tourism. This issue is part of the scientific research in the field of land use, land use change and climate change.

Publication (GERMAN)