The ISB Commission on Climate, Tourism and Recreation was initiated during the 14th Congress
of the International Society of Biometeorology, held in September 1996 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Weather, climate, tourism and recreation
Climate (the concept includes weather) and leisure activities are connected in diverse ways. For
example, a period of continuous heavy rain can ruin an otherwise enjoyable holiday, especially if it
is unexpected. Other facets of weather can have the same effect on an outing to the local park or
football game. "Expectations" of climate are also important. Rainy summers or winters with less than
expected snow can affect the numbers of tourists and have significant effects on profits. There is
also the misleading concept of climate taken to "a constant". Holidaymakers and tourist operators
often have predetermined expectations about the climate of an area or climate at that locale during
a particular time of year or season. Many assume climate conditions to be constant or "normal".
Clearly, tourists and those in the tourism business require appropriate information on climate.
Approaches to recreation and tourism climatology
There has been relatively little research done in recreation and tourism climatology, and much of it
appears to be motivated by the potential usefulness of climate information for planning in tourism
and recreation. The research often addresses the theme of recreation climate as an adjunct to a
variety of decision making processes ranging from those related to such things as the development and
location appropriate recreational facilities, or determining the length of the recreation season
during which a facility will operate, to those as specific as planning future activities involving
personal decisions of when and where to go for a holiday. There is also interest in the indirect
effects of climate. For example, Perry (1997) suggests that people leave swimming pools and golf
courses on wet days and converge on nearby towns in search of amusement indoors. Therefore, depending
on the weather sensitivity of the recreational activity, climatic information can help in the planning,
scheduling and promoting of alternative indoor entertainment facilities. Perry (1997) also describes
the use of climate information in publicity campaigns to condition tourists' expectations of climate
at certain locations. It is clear that if climatic information is to be useful in decision making,
it needs to be presented in a form appropriate to the problem. De Freitas (1990) shows that standard
weather data or even secondary climatic variables are not always reliable indicators of the
significance of atmospheric conditions. Recreationists respond to the integrated effects of the
atmospheric environment rather than to climatic averages.
Weather and climate as a natural resource
Together with geographical location, topography, landscape, flora and fauna, weather and climate
constitute the natural resource-base of a place for recreation and tourism.
Weather and climate as limiting factors in tourism
The characteristics of weather and climate are not necessarily determinants of tourism but constitute
an important factor in both financial terms for tourism operators and the personal experiences of
tourists. Various places in the world have a "tourism potential" and weather and climate set limits.
For example, tourism administrators do not promote places with a little potential or appeal as this
would not be profitable. On the other hand, the tourist who chooses to visit such places would suffer
inconvenience (e.g. transport costs) or discomfort (e.g. heat or cold stress). Financial loses can
also result from weather variations and changes. Rainy summers or less snowy winters can have
significant impacts on tourism.
Weather and climate as factors in tourism and recreation demand
Weather and climate can affect decisions about holiday destination or the kind of activities engaged
in. Weather can play a significant role in the three phases of a trip: before, during and after.
Meteorological conditions also affect on-site behaviour of tourists and recreationists.
Weather, climate, health and tourism
Weather and climate can have a variety of effects on the physical wellbeing of holidaymakers
(e.g. heat and cold stress, sunburn, effects air pollution and heat stroke). Purpose-designed climate
advisory services could help to prepare and protect travelers, especially at-risk groups
(the retired, the very young, the sick).