NEWS | Wednesday, 16 April 2008
A report published by Deutsche Bank’s research arm yesterday revealed that by 2030, tourism in Malta risks being the worst affected by climate change in Europe.
The study discusses the possibility of depletion of tourist numbers in the warmer countries once destinations like Denmark, Germany and the Baltic states are chosen over Malta and Cyprus.
Singling out Malta as the European country to be most seriously affected by climate change, the report points out that higher temperatures and water shortages are expected to put off tourists in the high season, favouring cooler countries. Malta’s high economic dependence on tourism, contributing to 35 per cent of our national GDP, means the problem will be further aggravated.
“Negative climatic consequences always have particularly serious effects if climate-sensitive tourism has major economic importance,” the study reads. “In Europe this applies to Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Austria and Greece… The Mediterranean region, with its focus on seaside and beach holidays, loses attractiveness if there is an increased number of heat waves in the summer months.
“While the classic summer package holiday in the Mediterranean tourist centres will noticeably suffer from rising temperatures, city trips, which are mainly enjoyed in the spring and autumn months, are generally independent of climatic changes. This is also true of cultural tourism, ‘wellness’ holidays and any other types of theme travel. One thing is fundamentally valid: the more the main reason for selecting a holiday destination is that the holidaymaker hopes for ‘good weather’ or favourable conditions for particular weather-dependent activities, the more impact – in both the positive and negative senses – the climate will have on the region concerned in the future.”
While Europe is the most important tourist region in the world, with around 55 per cent of all international tourist arrivals, or 461 million in 2006, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region rank also as the favourite holiday destinations in Europe.
Distributed by one of the world’s most influential investment banks, this report may result in reduction of enthusiasm among prospective long-term investors looking into Malta’s tourism potential.
Raising questions on whether the research conducted was truly in-depth is a flawed statement with regards to Malta’s water-supply, where the authors completely discard the fact that fresh water in Malta is supplied by means of a Reverse Osmosis plant.
“Malta is already supplied with water by tanker ships, as the island has no sources of fresh water, in the form of streams or rivers, of its own,” the report reads.
Contacted by this newspaper, MTA Communications and PR director Kevin Drake said : “I did not read this report in particular but I would think that this is quite a logical thing to happen. Both Malta and Cyprus are bound to suffer. This is not the first report issued on the possible effects of global warming on tourism either. A study published in the UK a few months ago specified that in twenty years time, summers in Scandinavia and Germany will be sought after due to global warming.”
Asked whether the MTA is taking this threat into consideration when drawing out its long-term plans, he said : “These are studies, but there are no hard facts confirming that this is exactly what will happen. Of course, we’re keeping this issue at the back of our minds but at the moment we’re focusing on the next one, two and three years. There’s only so much one can do about global warming. In the event of knowing for sure that this is what is going to happen, then we would have to change our entire business model.”
16 April 2008
ISSUE NO. 531