Home Publisher's Point of View Rising Temperatures Can Easily Freeze Our Industry’s Ability to Grow & Thrive

Rising Temperatures Can Easily Freeze Our Industry’s Ability to Grow & Thrive

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Glenn Hasek

When temperatures hit record, intolerable levels in your part of the planet, how quickly will tourism dry up? I have been thinking about that this week as record heat waves send temperatures far beyond 100 degrees in many places. It can be unhealthy just to be outside. In Phoenix, there have been 25 heat-associated deaths so far, and 249 are still under investigation. High temperatures are just one of the painful impacts of climate change and the long list of impacts on our industry are many. The temperature trends certainly heighten the importance of reducing our industry’s climate impact—greenhouse gas emissions ultimately created because of our activities.

Along with a direct impact on tourism—the willingness of people to travel to your destination—there are considerations such as worker conditions, strains on mechanical systems, and the damaging of the natural infrastructure that draws people to your location in the first place.

Here in Florida, ocean/gulf water temperatures have flirted with or topped 100 degrees in numerous places, resulting in rapid coral die offs. The hot waters will rapidly fuel any tropical storm that comes along—a great worry for residents here who last year saw Hurricane Ian cause between $50 billion and $65 billion in damages. Insurance companies are leaving the state.

More on the Enormous Economic Cost

Of course, there are the other costs of doing business—higher electricity rates and higher prices throughout your supply chain caused by temperature strain. As reported on CNN, recent studies have shown that extreme heat could cost the United States $100 billion annually from the productivity loss alone. If left unchecked, it could sap away one-sixth of global economic activity by the year 2100.

This past week, Bloomberg reported that extreme heat threatens Europe’s $2 trillion travel industry. “Greek wildfires have forced evacuations of thousands of holiday goers,” the report said. “Unbearable heat this year has forced authorities to shut the Acropolis and driven tourists on the Italian island of Sardinia indoors.”

There is a direct link between heat, wildfires, wildfire smoke, outdoor air quality because of that smoke, and the willingness of people to travel to destinations impacted by the fires and smoke. And how does a hotel in a smoke zone maintain a high level of indoor air quality?

Canada’s Worst Wildfire Season on Record

According to The New York Times, Canada’s worst wildfire season on record is straining the outdoor segments of Canada’s tourism industry “at a crucial time in its rebound from years of pandemic travel restrictions. Of the 28.6 million acres that have burned across the country so far, more than 11.6 million acres were in Quebec, the most of any province, according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.”

The high levels of heat from climate change are impacting our planet faster than expected and impacting most of you directly. You certainly should be rethinking building design and where you locate your hotel in the years to come. The creation of heat islands in urban areas is just adding to the acceleration of higher temperatures. Will your company add to that problem?

The number of considerations that must come into play—risk assessments—for your hotel company and all businesses with the baking of our planet is mindboggling. How are you managing this discussion? I would love to know. I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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