Changing Landscape of Travel: Cooler Destinations and Alternate Seasons

As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, the tourism industry is also experiencing significant shifts. Rising temperatures and extreme heatwaves are prompting tourists to seek cooler destinations and reconsider the timing of their vacations. This trend is not only impacting popular hotspots in southern Europe but also opening up new opportunities for travel to unlikely destinations in northern Europe. Sebastian Ebel, the chief executive of travel firm TUI, has recognized this changing landscape and is adapting the company’s offerings accordingly.

The Impact of Heatwaves and Climate Change

Heatwaves and climate change are influencing the choices and preferences of vacationers. Sebastian Ebel predicts that people will increasingly opt for spring or autumn vacations, avoiding the peak summer months when temperatures are at their highest. This shift can be attributed to a desire for more comfortable and enjoyable travel experiences.

Moreover, destinations that offer cooler climates are gaining popularity. Countries like Greece, traditionally associated with summer vacations, may see an influx of visitors during the cooler months, such as November. Even destinations in northern Europe, such as Belgium or the Polish coast, are expected to attract more tourists seeking relief from the scorching temperatures in popular Mediterranean destinations.

The Impact of Wildfires on Travel

The recent wildfires in Rhodes served as a wake-up call for both vacationers and the travel industry. TUI reported that the fires cost the company €25 million in cancellations, compensation, repatriation flights, and welfare costs. While the wildfires did not significantly affect the majority of TUI’s guests, the events highlighted the potential risks associated with climate change-related disruptions.

Tourists who experienced the wildfires described the situation as being akin to a disaster film. The fires led to the evacuation of over 20,000 people and rendered some resorts uninhabitable. These incidents have raised concerns among tourists, leading them to consider alternative destinations that are less prone to such extreme events.

Adapting to Changing Demand

TUI acknowledges the evolving preferences of vacationers and is taking steps to meet these changing demands. Sebastian Ebel emphasizes the need to broaden the range of destinations offered by the company to mitigate risks associated with climate change. TUI plans to introduce new tour packages covering northern European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries. These destinations, with their moderate temperatures, are expected to appeal to travelers seeking relief from the sweltering heat.

While northern European countries may experience increased tourism, Sebastian Ebel reassures that the Mediterranean region will remain one of the top choices for tourists. The allure of the Mediterranean, with its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant coastal towns, continues to attract travelers despite the challenges posed by climate change.

Insurance and Comprehensive Service

In light of climate change-related disruptions, TUI is exploring the possibility of introducing new insurance options for tourists traveling to areas that are susceptible to such events. This move aims to provide travelers with peace of mind and financial protection in case their travel plans are affected by extreme weather conditions or wildfires.

TUI also highlights the advantages of booking a package tour with an operator, emphasizing the comprehensive service it provides in extraordinary situations. The company’s response to the Rhodes wildfires demonstrated the value of booking through an operator, as TUI was able to efficiently handle cancellations, compensation, and repatriation flights for affected customers. This comprehensive service becomes even more crucial in times of crisis or unexpected events.

Positive Outlook and Recovery

Despite the challenges posed by heatwaves, wildfires, and climate change, TUI remains optimistic about the future of the travel industry. The company reported a return to profitability in the third quarter of the year, indicating a positive recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bookings for summer 2023 are already up 6% compared to the previous year, and the company’s price increases reflect the continued popularity of summer vacations and the willingness of customers to prioritize travel and experiences.

TUI’s positive outlook extends beyond the immediate recovery from the pandemic. The company aims to expand its offerings and adapt to changing demands. By providing a diverse range of destinations and considering alternate seasons for travel, TUI is poised to meet the evolving needs of vacationers in a rapidly changing world.


Heatwaves and climate change are reshaping the way people plan their vacations. Cooler destinations and alternative seasons are gaining popularity, as vacationers seek relief from rising temperatures and the risks associated with extreme weather events. TUI, a prominent player in the travel industry, recognizes these shifts and is adapting its offerings accordingly.

By broadening the range of destinations, introducing new insurance options, and emphasizing the comprehensive service provided, TUI aims to cater to the changing demands of travelers. While the Mediterranean region remains a top choice for vacationers, the company is also embracing the opportunities presented by northern European countries with more moderate climates.

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, the travel industry must adapt and evolve. TUI’s proactive approach in anticipating and addressing these changes positions the company for continued success in providing enjoyable and safe travel experiences for travelers around the world.