In the News

Geography in the News: Three ways climate change is making adventure tourism riskier

Vicki Woolven

12th September 2022

Climate change is making adventure tourism more challenging and sometimes riskier, according to travel industry bodies, tour operators.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says the tourism sector is increasingly challenges by extreme weather linked to climate change, making adventure tourism riskier and in need of more monitoring. This summer has seen rockfalls on Alpine hiking routes, wildfires threatening campsites in southern Europe and floods and landslides along South American rivers. Adventure tourism accounts for almost a third of the tourist sector.

1 - Falling rocks and ice

Rockfalls caused by fast-melting ice are a huge risk in mountainous regions - many areas have become no-go zones as rockfalls and collapsing glaciers have destabilised them. This summer saw the closure of several hiking routes in the Alps, while a glacier collapse in the Dolomite region killed 11 hikers in July. The situation is so risky that one French mayor suggested that that climbers on Mont Blanc should pay a deposit to cover rescue and possible funeral costs.

On Everest's base camp sherpas have reported seeing a stream of flowing ice, with exposed rocks falling everywhere. Ridges of ices are hanging precariously over climbing routes and some crevasses are now so wide that they can't be crossed.

2 - Campsite wildfires

Wildfires are becoming increasing common and led to the evacuation of hundreds of campers in Greece, France, Spain and California during this summer's heatwave. Between 2008 and 2012 there were 473 wildfire-related fatalities in Europe - and a quarter of the victims were tourists. The worst fire occurred in 2012 in Mati, a Greek coastal village, where 103 people died in a campsite surrounded by forest.

Wildfire are even a risk in areas of the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands in South America.

3 - Troubled waters

In mountainous areas landslides will become more frequent due to extreme rainfall. landslides make rivers change their course and become shallower, which then makes them harder to navigate, and make rafting almost impossible.

In non-mountainous areas intense rainfall will lead to severe flood events, making river levels rise significantly causing rafters to be swept away; or drought events will make periods of low river flow longer, meaning that rafting can't occur.

Additionally the rising water temperature is increasing cases of painful foot fungus for river users!

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Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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