Navigating the Blistering Summers: How Heatwaves are Impacting Global Tourism


Key Takeaways

  • Record-breaking temperatures globally affect travel, leading to incidents like discomfort on flights and emergency landings.
  • Despite intense heat, tourists visit hotspots like Death Valley and European cities, surpassing previous visitor levels.
  • Experts warn of frequent heat waves due to climate change, necessitating adaptation strategies for travelers.
  • Suggestions include early visits to attractions, seeking cooling stations, and utilizing travel insurance for weather-induced cancellations.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that this summer has been one of the hottest on record. From Rome to Phoenix, sweltering temperatures are being registered across the globe, affecting tourists and travelers alike.

According to a report published by USA Today, just this month, a passenger and flight attendant on a Delta Air Lines flight required hospital treatment due to a “heat-related issue” after the cabin temperature became uncomfortably high, reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, severe weather forced an emergency landing of another Delta flight en route from Milan to New York.

Despite this, tourists are not being dissuaded by the burning temperatures. A notable instance was seen when visitors braved Death Valley National Park’s staggering 134-degree temperature record. Moreover, according to Rey Alton, a Texas-based travel agent specializing in luxury travel to the Mediterranean, popular European destinations such as Rome and Athens are expected to surpass their 2019 visitor levels.

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Adapting to the New ‘Hot’ Norm

The report noted that, unfortunately, these intense summers might become more common, according to Dr. Neelu Tummala, surgeon and co-director of the Climate Health Institute at George Washington University. He attributes this increasing pattern of extreme events to climate change, expressing concerns over the likelihood of frequent heat waves in future summers.

Dealing with Record-Breaking Temperatures: Advice for Travelers

The Mediterranean, particularly, is bearing the heatwave’s brunt, with Italy seeing cases of heat stroke among tourists. Cities like Rome have established cooling stations near popular attractions, offering free water and misting tents for visitors seeking relief from the heat.

Alton advises travelers in these regions to strategize their itinerary well. He suggests visiting popular attractions like the Statue of David early in the morning and relaxing by the pool or gelato during the peak afternoon heat.

Attractions Shutting Down Amidst the Heatwave

The report noted that certain popular attractions have had to close due to the severe heat. In Greece, the Acropolis, known for its limited shade, shut down mid-day due to health risks posed to workers and visitors. However, in the U.S., despite high temperatures in central and southern regions, national parks remain open, though some programs may be canceled due to heat.

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Protecting your trip against weather-induced cancellations can be done by purchasing travel insurance. Alton also notes that most tour operators will likely refund if heat causes your activity to be canceled.

Keeping Safe During a Heatwave: Essential Tips

As travel often involves extensive physical activity, experts advise caution, especially for the elderly and children who might have trouble communicating their discomfort in the heat.

Some preventive measures include frequent breaks, ample hydration, wearing loose clothes, and using sunscreen. Always remember to check the weather before heading out and be aware of your physical limitations, says Shannon Stowell, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Recognizing and Responding to Heat Stroke Symptoms

Be vigilant for signs of heat stroke, such as lightheadedness, nausea, muscle cramps, heavy sweating, or headaches. Dr. Tummala recommends taking immediate action to cool down by drinking electrolyte-filled fluids, applying a cool, wet cloth to the body, moving to a cooler area, and using ice packs.

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What We Think

The increasing prevalence of extreme heat poses significant challenges to travelers worldwide. While it’s commendable to see tourists persisting in visiting popular destinations, the risks associated with soaring temperatures cannot be ignored.

Climate change’s undeniable impact demands proactive measures, both by travelers and destinations, to ensure visitor safety and mitigate disruptions caused by heatwaves.

Travelers should heed expert advice, plan strategically, and prioritize health and safety, considering the changing dynamics of weather-related risks during their trips.

Learn more in the entire USA Today report.


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