Reliability and usability of tourism climate indices

Ghislain Dubois, Jean Paul Ceron, Clotilde Dubois, Maria Dolores Frias and Sixto Herrera (2015)

2016 - Earth Perspectives 3:2

Ghislain Dubois, Jean Paul Ceron,  Clotilde Dubois, Maria Dolores Frias and Sixto Herrera


Tourism climate indices (TCI) are commonly used to describe the climate conditions suitable for tourism activities, from the planning, investment or daily operations perspectives. A substantial amount of research has been carried out, in particular with respect to new indices formulae adapted to specific tourism products, and parameters and their weighting, taking into account surveys on the stated preferences of tourists, especially in terms of comfort.

This paper illustrates another field of research, which seeks to better understand the different sources of uncertainty associated with indices.

Indeed, slight differences in formula thresholds, variations in computation methods, and also the use of multimodel ensembles create nuances that affect the ways in which indices projections are usually presented. Firstly, we assess the impact of differences in preference surveys on the definition of indices thresholds, in particular for thermal comfort. Secondly, we compare computation methods for France, showing the need to better specify detailed data sources and their use to ensure the comparability of results. Thirdly, using multimodel
ensembles for the Mediterranean basin, we assess the uncertainty inherent in long-term projections, which are used in modelling the economic impact of climate change. This paper argues in favour of a more cautious use of tourism comfort indices, with more consideration given to the robustness of data (validation, debiasing, uncertainty assessment, etc.) and users’ needs, from the climate services perspective.

Keywords: Climate, Tourism, Indices, Preferences, Mediterranean, Uncertainty, Downscaling, Climate Services

Reliability and usability of tourism climate indices (PDF, 2386.63 ko)