Rising temperatures to alter Mediterranean’s thermal tourism

Rising global temperatures impact natural ecosystems and wildlife and have significant implications for tourism, particularly in countries around the Mediterranean basin, including Türkiye. Experts warn that climate change is likely to negatively affect the thermal comfort of tourists, especially during peak seasons.


Mehmet Somuncu, head of Ankara University’s Human Economic Geography Department, highlighted the vulnerability of Türkiye, a key player in the Mediterranean tourism sector. He noted that while the global average temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last century, the Mediterranean basin has experienced an even greater increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This increase is evident in the annual average temperature, but it is particularly pronounced during July and August, the peak tourism season. Temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees Celsius on extreme days. This reduced comfort for tourists is a significant and growing concern,” Somuncu explained.

“Water scarcity is identified as a primary issue that may plague the Mediterranean basin in the near future, exacerbating the challenges posed by rising temperatures. Somuncu also highlighted the invasion of alien species in the region’s seas, particularly in the Mediterranean. He noted that over 450 species have entered the Mediterranean from foreign seas, with recent sightings of puffer fish and lionfish moving westward toward the Gulf of Iskenderun. This phenomenon poses a risk to coastal areas like Antalya and Muğla,” he explained.

Furthermore, the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, such as floods, are beginning to impact tourism accommodation facilities. While currently sporadic, these events are expected to become more frequent and severe in the future, affecting tourism infrastructure and visitor experiences.

“Tourism in the Eastern Mediterranean will face significant challenges in the coming years due to rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns and other extreme weather events,” Somuncu said.

He highlighted that countries like Türkiye, France, Italy, Spain and Greece, known for their coastal tourism, will be particularly affected. Moreover, he noted a potential decline in sea tourism demand in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria in North Africa, suggesting a need to explore alternative tourism options.

He also discussed the rising sea levels along the Mediterranean coast, which have increased by about 6 centimeters in the last century. Predictions suggest this rise could escalate, potentially reaching 1 meter (over 3 feet) by the end of this century. Given that approximately half of the 550 million people living in Mediterranean-bordering countries reside along the coast, this trend poses a significant risk of flooding for these populations.

Somuncu further explained that metropolitan areas, due to their higher temperatures resulting from human activities, are detrimental to urban tourism. He highlighted cities like Paris and London, as well as the capitals or major cities of Italy and Spain, where urban heat islands are particularly intense.

To address these challenges, Somuncu recommended that stakeholders in the tourism sector collaborate to identify risks and develop a road map for climate-resilient tourism. He defined this as the industry’s ability to withstand and respond to crises while preserving its current structure.

Somuncu stressed the importance of considering current and future climate change effects in all tourism-related investments. He proposed a strategy of diversifying tourism activities across all regions and throughout the year, suggesting a shift toward mountainous areas like the Taurus Mountains. He highlighted the attractiveness of the northern part of Türkiye, particularly the Black Sea region, with its mountainous, forested areas, villages and plateaus.

He pointed out that the Black Sea region alone boasts between 500 and 750 plateaus in each province, offering ample development opportunities. He suggested that with careful planning and organization, similar to what has been done in the Alps, tourism in these areas could be diversified and expanded. He believed that such a strategy would not only contribute to regional development but also reduce Türkiye’s overall tourism risk.