International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 781–797 | Cite as

The Spanish tourist sector facing extreme climate events: a case study of domestic tourism in the heat wave of 2003

  • M. Belén Gómez-MartínEmail author
  • Xosé A. Armesto-López
  • Emilio Martínez-Ibarra
Original Paper


This research explores, by means of a questionnaire-based survey, public knowledge and perception as well as the behaviour of young Spanish tourists before, during and after the summer holiday period affected by an episode of extreme heat in 2003. The survey was administered between November and December 2004. The extraordinary heat wave of the summer of 2003 can be seen as an example of a normal episode in terms of the predicted intensity and duration of European summers towards the end of the twenty-first century. It can therefore be used as the laboratory setting for this study. In this context, the use of the climate analogue approach allows us to obtain novel perspectives regarding the future impact that this type of event could have on tourist demand, based on a real experience. Likewise, such an approach allows the strategies of adaptation implemented by the different elements in the tourist system in order to cope with the atmospheric episode to be evaluated. Such strategies could prove useful in reducing vulnerability when faced with similar episodes in the future. The main results indicate that Spanish tourists (young segment market) are flexible in adapting to episodes of extremely high temperatures. Their personal perception of the phenomenon, their behaviour and the adaptation measures implemented to a greater or lesser extent before that time, reduce the vulnerability of the sector when faced with this type of event, at least from the point of view of this young segment of the internal national market. In Spain, the episode of extreme heat of 2003 has led to the implementation or improvement of some adaptive measures after the event, especially in the fields of management, policy and education.


Heat wave Tourism Adaptation Climate change Mediterranean 



This study was conducted within the framework of a Plan Nacional de I + D + I research project sponsored by Spain’s Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, reference numbers CSO2008-01346 and CSO2011-23404.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Belén Gómez-Martín
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xosé A. Armesto-López
    • 2
  • Emilio Martínez-Ibarra
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Geography and Regional Geographical AnalysisUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Physical Geography and Regional Geographical AnalysisUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Physical Geography and Regional Geographical AnalysisUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

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