Resort in the French Alps that would close under the assumptions presented in the Department of Tourism's latest report.

Resort in the French Alps that would close under the assumptions presented in the Department of Tourism

The French Ministry of Economy’s Tourism Department has released a report on climate change that warns against significant losses to France’s buzzing tourist industry.

Tourism made up about 6 percent of France’s Gross Domestic Product in 2008.  According to National statistics bureau INSEE, 82 million tourists visited France in 2007.  This makes France the world’s most popular tourist destination by number of visitors, while it is third with regards to revenues after the USA and Spain.  But this could be changing, and fast.

The Tourism Department’s report is based on expectations of a 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (37.40oF-39.20oF) rise by 2100.

The report highlights three main threats to France as a top tourist destination: 1. melting snow; 2. water shortages; and 3. disappearing beaches.

Under the presented scenario, winter sports would no longer be possible at resorts at an altitude of 1200 meters (3900 feet).  For example, the 35 ski resorts in the Alpine region of Haute-Savoie would be reduced to 18.

A rise in sea level is expected to exacerbate coastal erosion, which already affects one-fifth of France’s tourist areas.

The report also addressed loss of tourism in France’s overseas departments.  Notably, New Caledonia and Polynesia are likely to lose the coral reefs that constitute their main tourist appeal.  

There is also discussion of social tensions that could arise from climate change.  As chilly Northern France benefits from global warming, it is likely to become a more popular holiday destination for northern European visitors.  But, those are visitors who would have otherwise been on Rivera will likely opt for the north changing economic patterns.  With regards to tourism, climate change, population growth patterns, and economics go hand in hand.  The report is extreme, it asks, “will we choose to irrigate golf courses or fields of maize?”

The first step is realizing that there is a potential problem.  Yet, what will France do with these warnings?  Will the report (which is not yet publicly available) strike a chord in the greater population?  Time will tell and we’ll report…

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